Syria: Attack on humanitarian convoy is attack on humanity

A Civil Defence member and a man put out a fire after an airstrike on the rebel held Urm al Kubra town western Aleppo city Syria

When the convoy departed for Aleppo, "notification. had been provided to all parties to the conflict, and the convoy was clearly marked as humanitarian", said U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien. Media reports said 18 of a total of 31 trucks were hit.

The aid convoy was hit in the area of Urum al-Kubra, west of Aleppo, where a warehouse belonging to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent also was struck, the United Nations and aid agencies said.

The United Nations confirmed the convoy was hit but gave no details on who carried out the attack or how many died as world leaders converged on NY for their annual UN gathering under the shadow of fresh violence in the Syrian civil war.

USA officials have demanded that Russia take responsibility for what they said was an air strike on a United Nations aid convoy near the northern city of Aleppo by either Russian or allied Syrian warplanes. The International Committee of the Red Cross says 20 civilians were killed in the aid convoy attack.

"And, of course, it wouldn't hurt if our American colleagues didn't accidentally bomb the Syrians", he added, referring to a US-led coalition strike last week that Moscow said killed at least 62 Syrian servicemen.

The Syrian military, just hours earlier, had declared the weeklong truce had failed.

The initial hope was that the ceasefire would help bring a much-needed calm to the country's hotspots and that it would create a safe enough environment to deliver humanitarian aid to those in need. "In either case, the Russians have the responsibility certainly to. refrain from taking such action themselves, but they also have the responsibility to keep the regime from doing it", a US State Department statement said.

The director of a SARC branch was among those killed in the attack, ICRC Middle East public relations officer Krista Armstrong told CNN.

She said Australia's view was all options should be on the table to ensure a ceasefire is in place so humanitarian relief can be supplied. "If intentional character of such attacks is established, Switzerland reminds that they are war crimes".

The ICRC and the Syrian Red Crescent issued a statement Tuesday saying 20 civilians had been killed in the convoy attack, many of them struck while offloading aid from the trucks.

CNN can not confirm the authenticity of the video or who was responsible for the attack.

Among the victims was Omar Barakat who headed the Red Crescent in Uram al-Kubra, the town where the attack occurred, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, and Aleppo-based activist Bahaa al-Halaby said.

This marks a "very, very dark day for humanitarians in Syria and indeed across the world", he said, stressing that it was "paramount that we are able to establish the facts through an independent investigation".

"Failing to respect and protect humanitarian workers and structures might have serious repercussions on ongoing humanitarian operations in the country, hence depriving millions of people from aid essential to their survival". He said that without a ceasefire there would be a "spiral of war, but we have to be honest, the US-Russian negotiation has reached its limits".

Syria's beleaguered opposition sneered at this, branding the worldwide community weak for not immediately taking action against Bashar al-Assad's regime for breaking the truce.

Britain backed global condemnation of the strike, which came hours after Syria - a main suspect alongside Russian Federation - ended a week-old ceasefire.

Francois Hollande also told world leaders the Syrian conflict would be remembered as a "disgrace" for the global community if it failed to end the fighting swiftly. "So we need to see what the Russians say", he said.

Later, UN officials stated that the convoy had been shelled and there were casualties.

The United Nations has since suspended all humanitarian aid convoys.

The Syrian government has cut off supplies to rebel-held areas, with staples such as flour and medicine unavailable or prohibitively expensive.

"Our outrage at this attack is enormous", said Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations special envoy for Syria.

Related:

Comments


Other news