UN convoy attack: Questions to be answered

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
A damaged UNHCR truck is pictured after an attack in the rebel held Urm al-Kubra town, western Aleppo city, Syria September 20, 2016. © Ammar Abdullah
The attack on the UN aid convoy near Aleppo has been widely covered in the UK, prominently featuring the assertions that either Russia or the Syrian government was behind the tragic event.

Even though the media did report the statement of the Russian Defense Ministry that neither Russian nor Syrian warplanes carried out strikes against the humanitarian convoy, they omitted a number of details pointing to the highly suspicious nature of this incident.

We know that a number of rebel groups didn’t welcome humanitarian convoys passing through their territories. By the way, they didn’t accept the Russian- and US-brokered ceasefire in the first place. That’s why Russia monitored its passage from the air – noting, among other things, military equipment that accompanied it, which later disappeared. Accounts of the supposed strike differ significantly – some “witnesses” saw “planes,” others “helicopters.” The available video images have no signs of aircraft munitions explosions.

It is no secret that not everybody in the US was happy with the accords of September 9. Sounds like too many forces were interested not to give them a chance, at least to divert attention from the confirmed and recognized recent strike by US and UK air forces against the Syrian army. As for that strike, things are much clearer, except for one thing – was it a mistake, a failure of intelligence and precision, or a deliberate act of hostility and pressure on Damascus?

Anyway, given the seriousness of the incident, all the facts need to be established first. And then there remains the trivial and fundamental question of who benefits from it, from sowing discord between Russia and the US, whose effort is widely deemed to be the last chance to stop violence in Syria.

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