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UN suspends all humanitarian aid convoys in Syria after deadly airstrike

The week-long ceasefire in the war-ravaged country has collapsed.

Jana Mahmoud, a Syrian refugee child stands at a camp for refugees in Turkey earlier this year.
Jana Mahmoud, a Syrian refugee child stands at a camp for refugees in Turkey earlier this year.
Image: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP/Press Association Images

THE UNITED NATIONS (UN) has suspended all humanitarian aid convoys in Syria after a deadly air raid hit trucks delivering aid near Aleppo, killing volunteers and civilians.

As an “immediate security measure, other convoy movements in Syria have been suspended,” Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency, told reporters in Geneva.

This marks a “very, very dark day for humanitarians in Syria and indeed across the world,” he said, stressing it was “paramount that we are able to establish the facts through an independent investigation”.

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

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said 12 Red Crescent volunteers and drivers had died in the strike.

Red Cross spokesman Benoit Carpentier told reporters the director of the Syrian Red Crescent’s sub-branch was killed, along with a number of civilians.

Laerke said the convoy had been carrying food and non-food aid for some 78,000 people.

The aid was “intended for people in dire need … This aid will now not reach those people,” he said, stressing that attacks on humanitarian workers has “an exponential effect on thousands of other people”.

The SOHR said it appeared the attack was carried out by either Syrian or Russian aircraft. However, CNN is reporting that no one has claimed responsibility and it is unclear whether the convoy was hit by an airstrike or shelled.

Ceasefire

As a result of the airstrikes, the ceasefire billed as the “last chance” to halt Syria’s five-year war collapsed last night.

The deal came into effect on 12 September after marathon talks in Geneva between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Syria’s military declared the week-long truce over yesterday evening, accusing rebels of more than 300 violations.

“We have not had seven days of calm and of delivery of humanitarian goods,” Kerry told reporters in New York after the army’s announcement.

Russia said rebel breaches made it “pointless” for Syrian troops to uphold the ceasefire, but it could resume if “terrorists” stopped their attacks.

“The conditions are very simple. The shooting needs to stop and the terrorists need to stop attacking Syrian troops,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “And of course it wouldn’t hurt if our American colleagues didn’t accidentally bomb the Syrians.”

The civil war, which began in 2011, is estimated to have killed more than 290,000 people and displaced over half the country’s population.

© AFP 2016

Read: UN aid convoy delivering food destroyed by airstrikes in Syria

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