Aid convoy attacked as Syria ceasefire collapses

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 12 Red Crescent volunteers and drivers had died in the strike
Men drive a motorcycle near a damaged aid truck after an air strike on the rebel held Urm Al Kubra town, western Aleppo city, Syria on September 20, 2016. Ammar Abdullah/Reuters
Men drive a motorcycle near a damaged aid truck after an air strike on the rebel held Urm Al Kubra town, western Aleppo city, Syria on September 20, 2016. Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

Aleppo // A convoy delivering aid to Syrians in Aleppo province was hit by a deadly air strike hours after the Syrian military declared an end to a week-long ceasefire, with an outraged UN warning it could amount to a war crime.

The UN said at least 18 trucks in the 31-vehicle convoy were destroyed on Monday en route to deliver humanitarian assistance to the hard-to-reach town of Orum Al Kubra.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 12 Red Crescent volunteers and drivers had died in the strike while UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien said initial reports indicated “many people” were killed or seriously wounded.

“Let me be clear: if this callous attack is found to be a deliberate targeting of humanitarians, it would amount to a war crime,” Mr O’Brien said.

The Observatory was unable to confirm if the planes responsible were Syrian or Russian.

The UN and Syrian Arab Red Crescent humanitarian mission had sought to take advantage of the ceasefire, which collapsed on Monday night as shells and bombs rained down on Aleppo city and the surrounding province.

The Observatory said a total of 36 people had died in the violence across the battleground region. A witness inside Aleppo city reported almost non-stop bombardment and constant sirens.

Syria’s military announced the end to the truce earlier on Monday, accusing rebels of more than 300 violations and failing to “commit to a single element” of the US-Russia deal.

The ceasefire, which came into force on September 12, saw an initial drop in fighting but violence began to escalate late last week and the deal came under severe strain over the weekend.

US Secretary of State John Kerry had warned that the truce could be the “last chance” to save the country.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: September 20, 2016 04:00 AM

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