Aid is seen strewn across the floor in Urum al-Kubra on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Aleppo on September 20, 2016, the morning after a convoy delivering aid was hit by a deadly airstrike. (Photo by AFP)
Both Moscow and Damascus have disclaimed responsibility for the recent deadly air raid targeting a humanitarian aid convoy near the northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo amid Western media reports pointing finger at the pair.
The United Nations said at least 18 trucks in a 31-vehicle convoy were destroyed late Monday as they came under attack while en route to deliver humanitarian assistance to the hard-to-reach town of Urum al-Kubra.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a statement that the airstrike killed around 20 people including one of its staff members.
On Tuesday, Syria's army denied bombing the aid convoy, with the official news agency SANA quoting an unidentified military source as dismissing the Western media claims.
"There is no truth to media reports that the Syrian army targeted a convoy of humanitarian aid in Aleppo province," the source said.
Damaged aid trucks are pictured after airstrikes hit Urum al-Kubra on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Aleppo, September 20, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
Additionally, Russia’s TASS news agency carried remarks by Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, as he rejected the allegations against Moscow.
"The air forces of Russia and Syria did not conduct any strikes against the UN aid convoy in the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo," he said.
Konashenkov further noted that the fire that tore through the aid convoy came "strangely” at the time that militants “were carrying out a large-scale attack on Aleppo."
US State Department spokesman, John Kirby, said in a statement that Washington would raise the issue of the attack directly with Moscow, claiming that the destination of the convoy was known to the Damascus government and the Russian Federation.
Meanwhile, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien said that if Monday’s incident was found to be deliberate, "it would amount to a war crime".
Russia says investigating aid convoy attack
Earlier on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said his country’s military was looking into "information" about the attack in Syria.
"I don't think it is possible or correct to make any unsubstantiated conclusions," he added.
The Russian official also stressed that hope for the renewal of a recently implemented ceasefire in Syria was "for now, very weak," noting that the cessation of hostilities could be resumed only if "terrorists" halted their bombardments of government forces.
Monday’s air raid came hours after Syria's army declared an end to the week-long ceasefire brokered by Moscow and Washington in the Middle Eastern country.
The Truce was the second attempt this year by Russia and the US to bring an end to the Syria crisis that started in March 2011.