‘UN Aleppo aid convoy report avoids pinning blame, carefully calls attack accident’
The probe failed to determine who exactly had been responsible for striking and destroying 17 out of the UN-Syrian Arab Red Crescent caravan’s 31 trucks in Urm al-Kubra, Aleppo province, in September. At least 10 people were killed, and over 20 others injured. Humanitarian aid worth almost $650,000 was destroyed or damaged as a result of the incident.
Russia and Syria were blamed by western officials on the very day of the attack. Moscow and Damascus denied the accusations, and provided documents which they said showed they had not performed strikes in the area on that day.
RT: Your thoughts on the report?
Karen Kwiatkowski: It’s very interesting how carefully they did not lay any accusation out. They stepped around the key question very delicately. And the excuses that were present in the summary of the report that I've read – the great deal of difficulty that the UN group claimed to have in discovering the facts, they could not get into Syria, they could not really look at any evidence, so many parties could not declassify the information quickly enough – when I hear things like that I see that barriers are being put in place of finding out who it was. The Russians and the Syrians did not have anything classified that they were refusing to give. Only the United States, only the coalition forces, but particularly the United States would have been wont to say ‘we can’t declassify quickly enough’.
Clearly, from other readings we know that there were US drones in the area at the time. So we know there’s quite a bit of evidence out there and it seems as if the UN group was not able to look at this evidence.
RT: The report says the attack was “likely” carried out by Syrian government forces or even Russia. That’s after the committee received unverified information that aircraft had allegedly been spotted. The importance of wording here, in such a report, your opinion on that?
KK: They worded it extremely carefully. And yet leaned towards ‘like we told you that’s probably the Russians or the Syrian government.’
But when you read what they’ve actually written – equal possibility that it was part of the US-backed coalition forces and particularly US forces. Equal possibility and yet they couldn’t really conclude anything.
The fact that they did pretty solidly put forward that it was an accidental bombing, or shooting or attack from the air. That really makes me think that when the truth actually comes out – and by no means do I consider this UN report to be any part of the whole truth – but when the truth does come out the function of this UN group investigating the attack will be to say, ’well it was not an attack, it was an accident.’ And I think it paves the way for when we find [out] who’s really behind it.
RT: Why does the report still inadvertently point a finger at Russia?
KK: I think it’s trying to maintain the political accusations that went out on the day of this attack. So certainly western governments said ‘we accuse the Russians’ pretty much and the Syrian air forces with the Russians. They have not been forced or been made to step away from those earlier statements. I mean seriously, as an American I’m no fan of the UN. We, the United States government fund 25 percent or more of the UN budget. And I would just say, as an American, we got our money's worth this time.
RT: Syrian government forces are mentioned as the “most likely” to have been behind the attack. Militant groups were ruled out, citing “the lack of military capabilities” as an argument. What do you think about this kind of statement?
KK: They are sidestepping the really criminal issue that has been going on with the Syrian civil war for quite some time. And that is the fact that the United States government has been aiding rebels, not just involved in opposing President Assad, not just involved in that. But they are aiding all the rebels, including ISIS rebels, and Al-Qaeda rebels, and Daesh, and every name you want to call them. The aid that they were giving has been fueling the murderous impact of this civil war. That’s what they don’t want to say, that’s the careful issue that they have to step around at all times.
I think the most important thing here is that they’ve said it was an accident, that will be the conclusion they’ll take forward and at some later day we will determine. You know Aleppo has been liberated at this point, there may be witnesses there, they can shed more light. I think there’s more to come on this story. It may not be well publicized, but I think that that’s not the final answer. And it’s very interesting what they did not say.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.