UN Suspends All Aid Convoys to Syria After Deadly Airstrike Attack
The attack is being described as a war crime.
The UN has suspended all aid convoys in Syria after air strikes hit a fleet of 31 Syrian Red Crescent trucks delivering food and vital supplies near the besieged city of Aleppo. At least 20 people were killed in the attack, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
A video shared by the Syrian White Helmets shows flames consuming the remains of the trucks said to have been hit by the air strikes. An activist walks around the carnage, showing blankets from the UNHCR, and trucks once “full of food, flour, and medicine” now burning.
The brutal attack on the convoy came shortly after Syrian President Bashar Assad declared the end of a fraught ceasefire on Monday. Both the Syrian and Russian governments deny any responsibility for the attacks, although the UN insists all parties involved in the conflict had been notified of the route.
About 250,000 people remain trapped in Aleppo. The Aleppo director for the Syrian Red Crescent was one of the brave aid workers killed while trying to deliver humanitarian relief to those caught in Syria’s tangled war.
"We're totally devastated by the deaths of so many people, including one of our colleagues, the director of our sub-branch, Omar Barakat. He was a committed and brave member of our family of staff and volunteers, working relentlessly to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people," said the president of the Syrian Arab Red Cresecent, Dr Abdulrahman Attar. "It is totally unacceptable that our staff and volunteers continue to pay such a high price because of the ongoing fighting."
In an official statement, UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien said: "If this callous attack is found to be a deliberate targeting of humanitarians, it would amount to a war crime."
Al Jazeera reports that Igor Konashenkov, an official spokesperson for Russia's defence ministry, denies the evidence that any airstrikes hit the trucks. His words claim that the Russian military "carefully studied the video recordings of the so-called activists from the scene and found no signs that any munitions hit the convoy."
"Everything shown on the video is the direct consequence of the cargo catching fire, and this began in a strange way simultaneously with militants carrying out a massive offensive in Aleppo."
While countries continue to deny their responsibility for the destruction, millions of Syrians will go another day without food and vital supplies.
This deadly air strike is a devastating blow to attempts to build peace in Syria, and could further jeopardise humanitarian efforts in the region.
As world leaders gather at the UN General Assembly in New York, the brutal attack is a reminder of the urgent need to take collective responsibility for the conflict in Syria.