NATO won’t speculate on who struck aid convoy in Syria – Stoltenberg to RT
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg refused to “speculate” on who bears responsibility for the attack on the UN-Red Crescent aid convoy near Aleppo, saying we should “get the facts” first, as he spoke to RT after his meeting with the Russian FM.
'We should get the facts first' - Jens Stoltenberg to RT https://t.co/kpnh9ZJ2Y4#Syria#aidconvoypic.twitter.com/08ObPNkznr— RT (@RT_com) September 21, 2016
“The attack on the humanitarian convoy is morally totally unacceptable and it’s a blatant violation of international law,” Stoltenberg said in a brief interview to RT’s Ilya Petrenko, as he emerged from the meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the 71st UN General Assembly session in New York on Wednesday.
However, the NATO chief refrained from accusing any side of perpetrating the attack.
“I will not speculate about that. It’s important to get the facts and to find out how this could happened, but I won’t speculate,” he said, praising the talks with Lavrov as a “frank” and “useful” meeting.
“It just underlines importance of an effective ceasefire, unhindered access for aid workers and, of course, lasting and sustainable political negotiated peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria,” he added, speaking of necessity to galvanize the stalled reconciliation process in Syria.
Apart from Syria, the two officials also discussed a “wide range of issues,” including the situation in Ukraine, air safety in the Baltic and Black Sea regions, and agreed to “continue our dialogue on risk reduction and military transparency.”
READ MORE: US coalition Predator drone spotted at time & place of Syria aid convoy attack – Russian military
Earlier, Washington claimed that Moscow should be held accountable for the attack. Russia is “responsible for air strikes in this space, given that their commitment under the cessation of hostilities was to certainly ground air operations where humanitarian assistance is flowing,” White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said.
Moscow, however, strongly denied it had played any part in the atrocity, while calling it “another unacceptable provocation.”
On Wednesday, Lavrov confirmed that Russia had provided all data related to the incident for investigation, and pointed out that the timing of the attack coincided with the large militant offensive in the 1070 district of Aleppo.
Lavrov and his American counterpart, John Kerry, are expected to meet face-to-face for the second time since the start of the UN General Assembly session on Wednesday evening, a Russian delegation source told RIA Novosti.
On Monday, 20 civilians and one aid worker fell victim to the attack on the UN-led humanitarian convoy. While initial reports suggested it was targeted in an airstrike, no substantial evidence has been presented to support this version so far.
The UN later also retracted its earlier statement that the trucks and the Red Crescent facility were hit by warplanes, saying that it is “not in a position to determine whether there were in fact airstrikes.”