Syria conflict: UN suspends aid delivery after convoy, warehouse attack

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The United Nations (UN) has suspended all aid convoys in Syria after a devastating air attack on its lorries near Aleppo on Monday. The strikes destroyed 18 of the 31 lorries, which were bringing wheat, clothes and medical kit to the area around Urum al-Kubra.

A senior local official of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent was among about 20 civilians killed, aid officials said.

Russia and Syria have both insisted that their forces were not involved in the incident.

Aftermath of aid convoy attack, showing aid on ground and destroyed lorries

The attack on the convoy left aid supplies damaged beyond use and strewn over the ground (AP photo)

Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that after studying video taken at the scene they “did not find any signs of munitions hitting the convoy”.

“Everything shown in the video is the direct result of a fire which mysteriously began at the same time as a large scale rebel attack on Aleppo,” he said. The Syrian military, quoted by state media, said there was “no truth” to reports that the army had targeted the convoy.

A media activist who witnessed the attack told the BBC Arabic service that Russian reconnaissance planes had been spotted, apparently filming the passage of the convoy.

He said the first strike came at about 19:00 local time on Monday, when a helicopter dropped several barrel bombs. This was followed by rocket and machine-gun fire from aircraft, he said.

The attack came just hours after Syrian authorities declared an end to a fragile ceasefire in the war-torn country. The ceasefire had been called specifically to allow aid into some of the most desperate parts of Syria.
While some aid was delivered, agencies were severely hampered in the initial days of the ceasefire, unable to cross the border into Syria as they lacked permits from the government, UN officials said last week.
The convoy, however, had come from inside Syria, the World Food Programme told CNN. It was carrying crucial aid to around 78,000 people when it and the aid warehouse were attacked near the embattled city of Aleppo, the United Nations and aid agencies said. The area west of the city is reportedly rebel held.
(Excerpts from BBC and CNN reports this morning)

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