AleppoBernard Gagnon under GNU 1.2

The air raids that hit an aid convoy near Aleppo killed around 20 people, including a Red Crescent staff member, the humanitarian organisation said Tuesday.

"Around twenty civilians and one SARC (Syrian Arab Red Crescent) staff member were killed as they were unloading trucks carrying vital humanitarian aid," the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said in a statement.

Rumours swirled about the identity of the planes that attacked and hit the convoy. While US-led forces involving Australian planes violated the truce a few days earlier by hitting Syrian-regime troops, killing at least 62, initial unverified indications pointed to the Russians as possible culprits in this strike.

After taking some time to "verify information on this strike" however, Moscow denied its forces had anything to do with it, and further claimed that Syrian regime forces weren't involved either.

"The air forces of Russia and Syria did not conduct any strikes against the UN aid convoy in the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo," defence ministry in Moscow said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.

Syria's army, for its part, on Tuesday also denied bombing the convoy of aid trucks.
"There is no truth to media reports that the Syrian army targeted a convoy of humanitarian aid in Aleppo province," state media said, citing a military source.

This naturally leaves the question of who did indeed do it, open.

Monday's raid on the convoy destroyed at least 18 of 31 vehicles, as well as a Red Crescent warehouse in Orum al-Kubra in Aleppo province.

"Much of the aid was destroyed," IFRC said, stressing that "the attack deprives thousands of civilians of much-needed food and medical assistance."

Omar Barakat, who headed the SARC's sub-branch on Orum "succumbed to his injuries and died," IFRC spokesman Benoit Carpentier told reporters in Geneva.

SARC chief Abdulrahman Attar said the organisation was "totally devastated by the deaths of so many people," including Barakat, whom he described as "a committed and brave member of our family."

"It is totally unacceptable that our staff and volunteers continue to pay such a high price because of the ongoing fighting," he said.

According to IFRC, Syria is one of the world's most dangerous conflicts for humanitarian workers.

A total of 54 SARC volunteers and staff have been killed on duty in the war-ravaged country since the conflict began in 2011.

The war has claimed more than 300,000 lives, including some 87,000 civilians - 15,000 of them children - according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The UN humanitarian agency on Tuesday demanded an investigation into Monday's airstrikes on the convoy, which had been carrying desperately needed aid for some 78,000 people.

"From what we know of yesterday's attack, there has been a flagrant violation of International Humanitarian Law, which is totally unacceptable,"

Peter Maurer, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said in Tuesday's statement.

AFP contributed to this report