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Sat Oct 01 06:54:14 SAST 2016

Moscow denies Russia, Syria jets hit aid convoy: agencies

AFP | 20 September, 2016 15:01
A boy rides a bicycle near a damaged aid truck after an airstrike on the rebel held Urm al-Kubra town, western Aleppo city, Syria September 20, 2016.
Image by: AMMAR ABDULLAH / REUTERS

Neither Russian nor Syrian planes bombed an aid convoy in Syria's Aleppo, Moscow said Tuesday, as outrage mounted over strikes which the Red Cross said killed around 20 people.

"The air forces of Russia and Syria did not conduct any strikes against the UN aid convoy in the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo," defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.

The UN said at least 18 trucks in a 31-vehicle convoy were destroyed late Monday as they were en route to deliver humanitarian assistance to the hard-to-reach town of Orum al-Kubra in the Aleppo region.

Russia is flying a bombing campaign in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, and there are suspicions that either Moscow or the Syrian forces could be responsible.

But the Russian military said video footage from activists at the scene showed damage to the vehicles that did not appear to come from an airstrike or "any sort of munitions".

Instead, Konashenkov said the fire that tore through the convoy happened "strangely at the same time insurgents were carrying out a large-scale attack on Aleppo."

Washington expressed outrage over the attack, stressing that the convoy's destination was known to both the regime and to Russia, but Moscow said that only the rebels knew about its location.

The deadly incident came hours after the Syrian military declared an end to a week-long truce brokered by the Moscow and Washington earlier this month in an attempt to end the five-year war.

The United Nations has since suspended all humanitarian aid convoys for security reasons.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier Tuesday that hope for a renewal of the ceasefire was "for now, very weak", stressing that a truce could only be resumed if "terrorists" halted their alleged bombardments of government forces.

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