(UR) Moscow — Following Monday’s attack on a U.N. aid convoy near Aleppo in northern Syria — the blame, for which, the U.S. puts squarely on Russia’s shoulders — Russia is firing back, with a Defense Ministry spokesman denying any Russian involvement in the strike.
“No airstrikes were carried out against a humanitarian aid convoy in a southwestern suburb of Aleppo by Russian or Syrian aviation,” Major General Igor Konashenkov said Tuesday. “Seeing as the convoy’s route lied through the territories controlled by militants, the Russian reconciliation center monitored its passage yesterday via drones.”
He stated that “Further movements of the convoy were not monitored by the Russian side” and that “[o]nly the militants controlling this area know details of the convoy’s location.”
The United States was quick to point the finger at Russia following Monday’s violent action, with U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby stating: “The destination of his convoy was known to the Syrian regime and the Russian federation and yet these aid workers were killed in their attempt to provide relief to the Syrian people.”
He added: “The United States will raise this issue directly with Russia. Given the egregious violation of cessation of hostilities we will reassess the future prospects for cooperation with Russia.”
Russia is to blame even if the action was carried out by the Syrian military, in fact, according to another senior U.S. official, who stated: “We don’t know at this point if it was the Russians or the regime. In either case, the Russians have the responsibility certainly to restrain — refrain from taking such action themselves, but also they have the responsibility to keep the regime from doing it.”
Syria, for its part, has denied any involvement.
Konashenkov, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, raises another point altogether. He claims a careful examination of available video footage revealed no evidence of ammunition strikes at all in convoy vehicles, raising questions as to the validity of the “attack” itself.
“There are no shell holes, cars’ bodies are not damaged and there are no construction faults from the bust wave,” the spokesman said. “All shown on the footage is a direct consequence of the cargo being set on fire.”
Monday’s violence, which left at least a dozen humanitarian aid workers dead, coincided with the collapse of the latest ceasefire between the pro-Assad Syrian military and the U.S.-backed rebels in Aleppo. Many analysts viewed the ceasefire, which was brokered by the United States and Russia, as the last chance to end the fighting in Syria during the Obama administration.
Both the ceasefire and the deaths of the humanitarian aid workers came two days after a U.S.-led coalition airstrike killed 62 Syrian soldiers. The U.S. claims the action was an accident, and that the military thought the base targeted was controlled by ISIS. Both Russia and Syria were skeptical of that explanation.
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