Multiple Evidences Indicating that Russian and Syrian Forces Deliberately Targeted the U.N. Aid Convoy in Aleppo
By sn4hr-The report, published by SNHR, draws upon the investigation conducted by SNHR team where the Network contacted a number of eyewitnesses, civil defense members, survivors, and local media activists. Additionally, a cooperating individual visited the site of the incident at the request of SNHR after the bombardment ended to take and film private videos. The pictures and videos that we obtained as well as a number of the pictures and videos that were published on YouTube and social media by local media activists showed the huge destruction in the humanitarian aids. One of the pictures was of missile remnants that we believe were Russian.
The report notes that government helicopters and fixed-wing warplanes that we believe that are evidently Russian have took part in a concentrated attack that comprised multiple airstrikes on a center for the Red Crescent in eastern Urm Al Kubra town where the bombardment lasted for three hours. Government helicopters dropped no less than four barrel bombs while the fixed-wing Russian warplanes carried out nine airstrikes at least where missiles and heavy machine guns were used.
According to the report, the bombardment targeted mostly the Syrian Red Arab Crescent (SARC) center and destroyed an U.N. aid convoy of trucks that was supposed to deliver and drop the aids in warehouses belonging to the Red Crescent center. Additionally, the bombardment targeted also medical and civil defense teams that tried to rescue the wounded and injured relief workers.
The report documented that 12 civilians, who were all relief workers and truck drivers, were killed in these attacks. Among the victims were Omar Barakat, head of the Red Crescent in the town. Furthermore, the Red Crescent building in the town was largely destroyed and no less than 10 aid trucks were burned.
Fadel Abdul Ghani, chairman of SNHR, adds:
“It is not peculiar for a regime who besieges whole areas and obstructs aids access to destroy aids and those who are working on it. U.N. delegation have been targeted before, we shouldn’t forget that. It is also not unlikely that the Russian regime, who targeted and bombed 59 medical centers with all the patients, wounded, and equipment inside, targeted the Red Crescent center and the U.N. aid convoy. The various crimes and violations are happening in Syria because there has been no real deterrent since 2011. It is just an open green light.”
Furthermore, the report notes that there are additionally indicators that strongly suggest that the attack was deliberate, the most notable of which are:
First: The prolonged duration of the attack on the convoy and the center which spanned over three hours which entails an utter insolence and disregard during the attack for the perpetrator was certain that nothing would happen if the crime was exposed.
Second: The frequency of the strikes during the three hours, meaning that more than one missile was used and more than one strike were carried out so the attack wasn’t indiscriminate or by accident. In fact, four barrel bombs were dropped and the area was targeted with several missiles. Also, heavy machine guns were used to keep medics and civil defense teams away.
Third: The statement by Mr. Stephen Or’Brien, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs which states: “Notification of the convoy – which planned to reach some 78,000 people – had been provided to all parties to the conflict.” So the Russian and Syrian regimes are already aware of the place of the convoy at the time of the attack.
The report asserts that the Russian and Syrian regimes have, beyond any doubt, violated Security Council Resolutions 2139 and 2254 which both state that indiscriminate attacks must be halted. Also, they violated Article 8 of Rome Statute through the act of willful killing which constitutes war crimes.
Also, the report says that the attack targeted armless civilians. Therefore, the Russian and Syrian forces have violated the rules of the international human rights law which guarantee the right to life. Additionally, these violations were perpetrated in a non-international armed conflict which amount to a war crime where all elements were fulfilled.
The report recommends that the incidents included in this report are to be investigated, inform the Syrian people about the results and hold the perpetrators accountable, compensate the affected centers and facilities and rebuild and re-prepare them, and redress for all the families of the victims and wounded who were killed by the present the Russian regime.
Also, the recommendations included that the Security Council take additional steps as it has been a year since Resolution 2254 was adopted which states explicitly “that all parties immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such, including attacks against medical facilities and personnel, and any indiscriminate use of weapons, including through shelling and aerial bombardment.”
Lastly, the report emphasized the necessity to refer the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court and hold all those who are involved accountable including the Russian regime whose involvement in perpetrating war crimes has been proven. Also, security and peace must be instilled in Syria and the norm of the Responsibility to Protect must be implemented in order to save the Syrians’ lives, culture, and arts from being destroyed, stolen, and ruined, and to expand the sanctions to include the Russian and Iranian regime who are directly involved in committing crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Syrian people.