Russian and Syrian warplanes did not launch airstrikes on an aid convoy that was attacked en route to Aleppo, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The ministry added that only the militants who control the area had information regarding the location of the convoy.
“Russian and Syrian warplanes did not carry out any airstrikes on a UN humanitarian aid convoy in the southwest of Aleppo,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement Tuesday.
The Russian Center for Reconciliation said that it had used drones to accompany the convoy because its route passed through territory controlled by the rebels, but only to a certain point.
“Around 13:40 Moscow time (10:40 GMT) the aid convoy successfully reached the destination. The Russian side did not monitor the convoy after this and its movements were only known by the militants who were in control of the area,” Konashenkov added.
The Red Cross said that at least 20 civilians and one aid worker had been killed after what the organization believed was an airstrike struck the 31-truck convoy.
The aid worker was identified as Omar Barakat, the director of a sub-branch of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), which was helping with the delivery of aid intended to reach rebel-held areas of Aleppo.
The SARC said it would suspend aid deliveries in Syria for three days in protest at the airstrikes on the convoy.Meanwhile, the UN said it will be suspending all its aid convoys while the security situation in Syria is assessed.
“As an immediate security measure, other convoy movements in Syria have been suspended for the time being pending further assessment of the security situation,” UN humanitarian aid spokesman Jens Laerke said. He added that the UN had received permission from the Syrian government to deliver aid to all areas of the country.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is also postponing an aid convoy that was to deliver supplies to four besieged Syrian towns.
Earlier, the Kremlin said it was assessing the situation, while Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said it would be incorrect to make hasty conclusions when trying to apportion blame.
“I do not think it is possible and correct to make unfounded conclusions. At the moment, our military is checking information regarding the airstrike and I hope they are getting concrete information from first-hand sources that were present in order to present their own findings,” he said.
Peskov also pointed out that terrorists from Jabhat Al-Nusra (Al-Nusra Front) had been firing rockets at areas under the control of the Syrian government.
“We know that the Syrian armed forces, who for the whole week have been the only party to have kept to the terms of the ceasefire, had to respond to this offensive,” he said.