In Syria UN confirms airstrike hit aid convoy near Aleppo

UN experts have said an attack that left more than 20 civilians killed in Syria near Aleppo was from an airstrike.

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An attack on an aid convoy that killed more than 20 civilians in September near Aleppo, shattering a short-lived truce, was definitively from an airstrike, UN experts said on Wednesday.

“I can verify that the convoy was bombed. In our analysis, we saw that it was an airstrike,’’ Lars Bromley of the UN satellite observation programme (UNOSAT), said.

Bromleym who said the findings were based on satellite images provided to the UN by the U.S. State Department, however, provided no information as to who was behind the Sept. 19 airstrike.

Only the Syrian and allied Russian air forces regularly carry out airstrikes in rebel-held areas of Syria, although the U.S. has also carried out occasional raids aimed at al-Qaeda-lnked forces.

The head of the opposition-leaning Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel-Rahman, said he suspected Russian involvement.

“I have information that Russian planes carried out the attack”, he told dpa without giving details.

The development came as the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said it had officially classified rebel-held eastern Aleppo as a besieged area.

Some 250,000 to 300,000 people are thought to remain in Eastern Aleppo, which has been subject to devastating air raids and artillery shelling, including repeated strikes on its hospitals recently.

The Syrian army said it would “reduce the number of air and artillery strikes” on besieged eastern Aleppo in order to facilitate civilians wishing to leave to safe areas.

However, the UN has said that civilians were unable to leave the area due to the presence of the Syrian army at supposed safe crossing points that were announced by Russia at the end of July.

Officials from Germany, France, Britain, Italy and the U.S. were due to hold talks in Berlin on the situation in Syria.

“We must find ways to finally end this madness, this killing and dying in Syria,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

Besides Steinmeier, no other foreign ministers are expected at the Berlin talks, which will take place at the level of political directors.

The humanitarian situation in Aleppo since the collapse of last month’s week-long ceasefire has led UN and western officials to call for urgent action.

On Monday, the U.S. said it was suspending its cooperation with Russia on Syrian issues, accusing Moscow of failing to live up to its commitments and to rein in forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad,

“Not far from Aleppo, airstrikes by suspected Turkish jets on a Kurdish village in northern Syria killed at least 19 civilians.

“Three children were among the dead in the village of Thalthana, located north-west of the Islamic State-controlled town of al-Bab’’, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

As at the time of the report, there was no comment from Ankara or Washington.

Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels entered Northern Syria in August to attack Islamic State and Kurdish militants.

In recent weeks the campaign has turned its focus on the jihadist group, after the U.S. urged Ankara, its NATO ally, to refrain from further attacks on the Kurds.

The US has allied with the Syrian Kurds against Islamic State since 2014, and its airstrikes have enabled the Kurdish forces to capture most of the territory the extremist group held along the Turkish border.

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