Report: U.S. Believes Russian Aircraft Attacked Aid Convoy in Syria

A vest of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent hanging on a damaged vehicle, in Aleppo, Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016 / Aleppo 24 news via AP
• September 20, 2016 5:29 pm


U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Russian aircraft conducted the attack on a humanitarian aid convoy in Syria on Monday, refuting Secretary of State John Kerry’s initial statement that it was likely the Syrian government.

Kerry initially said it was "evidently" the Syrian army that was responsible for the attack, which killed at least 12 people.

The Russian government, which is allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and the Syrian regime were notified that the 31-truck convoy run by the United Nations and Syrian Red Crescent would be in the Aleppo area, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday afternoon. Both Moscow and Damascus have denied responsibility for the attack.

The attack also cast doubt on whether the latest ceasefire agreement brokered between Kerry and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov would hold. State Department spokesman John Kirby acknowledged Tuesday that the ceasefire was "very fragile" but said it had not yet collapsed, although Monday’s military strikes have caused U.S. officials to question whether they can trust Moscow, the Journal noted.

The bombing of the convoy also stoked doubts within the Obama administration that it can trust Moscow to meet its obligations under the cease-fire deal, U.S. officials said.

In its statement on Tuesday, the Russian military said the aid convoy was observed by unmanned aircraft passing through territory controlled by the rebels.

After the aid was safely delivered at 1:40 p.m. local time, the Russian center monitoring the warring sides in Syria stopped tracking the convoy, the statement added.

"Any further information on the whereabouts of the convoy was known only to the militants controlling these areas," it said.

Russia’s military also sought to discount the account of activists who presented video evidence of the attack.

Kerry said Tuesday that the ceasefire was "not dead."