Ban orders inquiry into bombing of aid convoy

UN Secretary-General announces a board of inquiry will investigate the bombing of an aid convoy in Syria.

Ben Ariel, Canada ,

Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on Friday he is setting up a board of inquiry to investigate the bombing of an aid convoy in Syria last week that killed 18 people, AFP reported.

American officials have concluded that Russian planes carried out the air strikes on September 19 that hit the 31-truck convoy bringing aid to a town west of the besieged city of Aleppo.

Moscow, however, has denied the accusation and the Russian military says it is carrying out its own investigation of the bombing that destroyed 18 trucks and damaged a warehouse.

The internal UN panel appointed Friday "will ascertain the facts of the incident" and report to Ban, who will "decide what further steps to take," said a UN statement quoted by AFP.

Ban urged all sides to fully cooperate with the probe.

The United Nations has warned that the attack on the aid convoy could amount to a war crime.

UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien told the Security Council on Thursday that the area around the convoy that was "clearly marked UN and Syrian Arab Red Crescent" became a "killing zone" during two hours of heavy bombing.

The strikes on the convoy in Urum al-Kubra claimed the life of the local head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Omar Barakat, as well as 12 volunteers and five drivers.

15 other drivers were wounded, many civilians were killed and wounded, and the warehouse as well as a nearby medical clinic severely damaged, O'Brien said.

The aid chief stressed that all actors on the ground were informed of the convoy's movement in line with UN procedures for all deliveries of humanitarian assistance.

"We do not yet have all the details," O'Brien said. "However, it is not too early to make clear the consequences of this shameful attack."

"If the attackers knew of the humanitarian convoy and intentionally directed an attack against it, they committed a war crime," he added, according to AFP.

The attack on the convoy came hours after a ceasefire brokered by the United States and Russia officially came to an end, and sections of Aleppo held by rebel forces were shelled.

The decision to end the ceasefire came in response to a U.S. coalition air strike on a Syrian army base that killed dozens of soldiers and which Washington said was unintentional.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)