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UN suspends Syria convoys after deadly strike on aid trucks

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to review situation in war-torn country before restarting deliveries

The morning after a convoy delivering aid was hit by a deadly air strike a damaged truck carrying aid is seen on the side of the road in the town of Orum al-Kubra on outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, September 20, 2016. (AFP/Omar haj kadour)
The morning after a convoy delivering aid was hit by a deadly air strike a damaged truck carrying aid is seen on the side of the road in the town of Orum al-Kubra on outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, September 20, 2016. (AFP/Omar haj kadour)

The UN said Tuesday it had suspended all humanitarian aid convoys in Syria after a deadly air raid the previous night hit trucks delivering aid near Aleppo, killing a Red Crescent staff member and civilians.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group that tracks the Syrian civil war, said at least 12 were killed in the attack, mostly truck drivers and Red Crescent workers.

Red Cross spokesman Benoit Carpentier said the director of the Syrian Red Crescent’s sub-branch was among those killed in the attack.

Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs humanitarian agency, told reporters in Geneva that it’s “a very, very dark day… for humanitarians across the world.”

He said that the UN aid coordinator had received needed authorizations from the Syrian government in recent days to allow for aid convoys to proceed within Syria, but as an “immediate security measure, other convoy movements in Syria have been suspended.”

Laerke added that the temporary suspension of the aid deliveries would hold pending a review of the security situation in Syria.

It was not clear who was behind the attack, which sent a red fireball into the sky in the dead of night over a rural area in the northern Aleppo province. Both Syrian and Russian aircraft operate over Syria, as well as the US-led coalition that is targeting the Islamic State group.

UN officials said the UN and Red Crescent convoy was delivering assistance for 78,000 people in the town of Uram al-Kubra, west of Aleppo.

Initial estimates indicate that about 18 of the 31 trucks in the convoy were hit, as well as the Red Crescent warehouse in the area.

The attack late on Monday came just hours after the Syrian military declared the week-long US-Russian brokered ceasefire had failed. The United States said it was prepared to extend the truce deal and Russia — after blaming rebels for the violations — suggested it could still be salvaged.

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