Only hours after the Syrian regime announced the cessation of violence was over, a United Nation’s aid convoy attempted to deliver essential supplies near Aleppo. Several air strikes hit the aid trucks killing at least 12 and seriously injuring many others.
At least 18 out of 31 aid trucks were struck as they made their way to Aleppo from Turkey on Monday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated the air strikes originated from Syrian or Russian aircraft, noting 35 strikes have landed in Aleppo and surrounding regions since the ceasefire ended.
According to BBC News, a UN spokesman confirmed the aid convoy had been struck in Aleppo province but was unable to confirm it was an air strike. A local resident told Reuters by phone “the trucks were hit by around five missile strikes while parked in a center belonging to the Syrian Red Crescent in the town of Urem al-Kubra, near Aleppo.”
It was reported the aid workers were hit as they unloaded supplies at a warehouse in Urem al-Kubra, which is controlled by the opposition. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien said that the convoy’s route had been given to all parties involved and it had been clearly marked as a target.
“Let me be clear: if this callous attack is found to be a deliberate targeting of humanitarians, it would amount to a war crime,” O’Brien said. “I call for an immediate, impartial and independent investigation into this deadly incident. The perpetrators should know that they will one day be held accountable for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.”
This bombardment comes right after Russia and the U.S. attempted to extend the truce on Monday in Geneva. The Syrian army and rebels reportedly expressed interest in going back to fighting instead of extending the ceasefire. Neither side believed the ceasefire had even truly begun since both sides accuse the other of violating it from the start.
The U.S. government holds Russia accountable for this attack—whether it was directly involved or not—because its government was responsible for ensuring the aid convoy reached its destination to deliver aid completely unharmed by the Syrian government.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated the “truce had not yet taken place,” referring to the seven days of “calm” in the region. “It would be good if they didn’t talk first to the press but if they talked to the people who are actually negotiating this. We just began today to see real movement of humanitarian goods and let’s see where we are. We’re happy to have a conversation with them.”
“The United States will raise this issue directly with Russia. Given the egregious violation of the cessation of hostilities we will reassess the future prospects for cooperation with Russia,” Kerry said.
The cessation of hostilities brokered between the U.S. and Russia included the safe delivery of humanitarian aid throughout Syria. This attack comes on the heels of an air strike carried out by the U.S.-led opposition on the Syrian military that left at least 62 people dead. All aid deliveries have been cancelled until further notice.
Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in March 2011, it has been estimated that between 250,000 to 470,000 residents of Syria have lost their lives amidst the fighting and air strikes. Millions of others have been displaced and forced to flee in pursuit of a safe haven.
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