U.S. intelligence agencies are reporting that Russia was behind a deadly airstrike on U.N. aid trucks near the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Monday night. Though Secretary of State John Kerry initially reported that Syrian aircraft carried out the attack, officials say that new intelligence demonstrates that Russian forces were behind the strike, which killed 12 people.
Officials also note that both the Russian and Syrian governments were well aware that the 31-truck convoy would be crossing through Syria and when it would happen. “There was coordination ahead of time with the Russians,” one U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal. Both Moscow and Damascus have denied any involvement in the attack.
U.S. and Russian diplomats reached an agreement on September 9 that would halt the Syrian civil war for seven days while the two world powers — who support opposite sides of the skirmish — can unite to fight a common enemy: ISIS and Nusra front extremists. The ceasefire was barely in place for an hour before it was violated by both sides. As the week drew to a close, with multiple truce violations on both sides, U.S.-led coalition forces carried out a mistaken airstrike in Deir al-Zour, a front line in the Syrian government’s fight against ISIS, killing 62 Syrian soldiers. The U.S. blamed the airstrike on an “intelligence failure.” But the peace agreement didn’t formally collapse until bombs were dropped on the convoy of aid trucks.
(Via The Wall Street Journal)