Washington’s Meaningless Confidence
On September 19, someone attacked a convoy of trucks delivering aid to a rebel-held area of Aleppo. Anti-government activists were emphatic the helicopters [were] dropping barrel bombs, followed by fighter jet strikes, which also used cluster bombs and-or machine gunned the area, keeping rebel help at bay so more witnesses would bleed to death.
A video seems to be consistent with that (see below), but it’s really not clear at all. Images showed trucks damaged by small-scale shrapnel (and/or bullets?) and gutted by fire – analysis of imagery and reports is well underway at A Closer Look On Syria. We’re still far from a clear reading, but from minute one the US has been quite clear the activist version was about right. An unnamed official told the Washington Post:
“We know it was an airstrike and not one from the coalition. We don’t know if it was Russia or the regime,” the only others flying over Syria, a senior administration official said. “In either case, the Russians have a responsibility certainly to avoid doing it themselves, but also to keep restraint on the regime.”
We know this? It’s not explained how. It sounds like the model of aircraft isn’t known, nor whose they were, just that they were present, in the air, and not ours. But another unnamed official said “two Russian SU-24 attack aircraft were in the sky above the convoy at the precise moment it was hit in Urum al-Kubra.” (BBC) This sounds like a radar finding, but it could be just empty words also. The official also noted the strike “was too sophisticated to have been carried out by the Syrian army.” Is it really excess sophistication? Or just that they just want to blame Russia specifically at this time?
There will be no radar proof brought forth, probably because they were watching and saw no movements. Most likely, this is nothing but circular reasoning – there was an airstrike that must have been the Russians, and they would use SU-24 jets, as usual, operating in pairs. But it will be read as independent proof – what odds that a possible airstrike happened while Russian jets were overhead? Obvious, “Putin crime!”
The US says it’s very certain. Uh-huh. A couple days earlier they were just as clear their aircraft were massacring Islamic State fighters near Deir Ezzour – in an area they, and not the Syrian army, normally held. After killing and wounding nearly 200 Syrian soldiers manning a well-known army-held position (see right), they stopped over Russia’s protest. Now they’re now trying to become sure those were Assad prisoners turned into unwilling soldiers, and/or dressed up as ISIS and put in a crucial spot in the hopes the US would kill them and get embarrassed. But it never works. The US these days seems to be far above shame or embarrassment, as they and their minions team up to mint custom-made realities daily. (See ACLOS)
The point is – we can’t trust Washington’s unnamed officials when they say what they believe to be the case. They’re telling us to believe their mistake story, but they don’t swallow that poison themselves. So, are they lying here as well? Especially when that lie would come so soon after and helps distract from the above-mentioned incident?
Russia’s Side of the Story
Russian defense ministry said there were no Russian or Syrian flights at the time:
But Russia, which denied its aircraft or those of its Syrian government allies were involved, said on Tuesday it believed the convoy was not struck from the air at all but had caught fire because of some incident on the ground.
“There are no craters and the exterior of the vehicles do not have the kind of damage consistent with blasts caused by bombs dropped from the air,” a statement from the defence ministry said.
Russian MoD found rebel large caliber mortar on a pickup truck moving with the convoy
(simply a reminder of the kind of weaponry all over the place, which could in fact have been the ground-based murder weapons).
After Russia’s protests, the UN changed its wording of its statement:
After the Russian explanation, the U.N. put out a revised version of an earlier statement, removing wording on “air strikes” and replacing it with references to unspecified “attacks”.
UN humanitarian spokesman Jens Laerke said the references to air strikes in the original statement, attributed to the top UN humanitarian officials in the region and in Syria, were probably the result of a drafting error.
“We are not in a position to determine whether these were in fact air strikes. We are in a position to say that the convoy was attacked,” he said.
However, most media and western government sources insist airstrike is evidently true.
Tracked by the Russians – into Terrorist Turf
Some have noted as suspicious how Russia had a surveillance drone to monitor the cease-fire, that happened to pass over the convoy as it sat parked -Elizabeth Tsurkov tweeted how “Russian drones w cameras followed the convoy’s movements,” tracking to kill, but then they released the video proof of their plot. Moscow’s take:
“Around 13:40 Moscow time (10:40 GMT) the aid convoy successfully reached the destination. The Russian side did not monitor the convoy after this and its movements were only known by the militants who were in control of the area,” Konashenkov added.
(13:40 will be the same 1:40 pm in both Moscow and Damascus.) This is apparently information they received – as I’ll explain, the drone passed later, and gave them a second piece of information.
[Below is Russian drone footage from above the UN convoy, showing US-backed ‘rebel’ militants driving an off-road vehicle with a large-caliber mortar launcher alongside UN aid trucks:]
The scene: the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) convoy of some 30 trucks set out from government-held west Aleppo, headed southwest into Islamist rebel held territory, which starts almost immediately past the city. (time: not sure yet). They passed through Khan al-Assal and Kafr Naha, and at least some of the trucks arrived at a warehouse about two kilometers further west, just east of Urm al-Kubra in the early afternoon. They remained parked there until nightfall, when the attack occurred. The map below shows where they were seen driving through Kafr Naha and where the attack happened.
The left-hand image shows the parking-attack site. The sunlight there is at an azimuth of about 225 degrees, which equates to a time of around 2:25 pm. About 40 minutes after the arrival time cited, they were clearly parked and not moving. various clues make in daylight images compared to satellite views make it clear this is the same spot the attack happened, referred to as a center of the Red crescent. So they-were still parked at 7:30 or so when the incident happened.
The destination known to the Russians at 1:40 was the same spot they would be attacked. So they didn’t “track” it with the one short span, but it didn’t move after last seen. So the Russians did know where it was, although they might not have known they knew it. Their jets could likely confirm this just before any attack. It’s not an issue. If the Russians were for brazenly murdering aid workers in a crime they could hardly deny, they could have easily found the target. It’s plain disturbing how that doesn’t register as an “if” to so many. “Of course Putin would do that, and obviously did!”
Who decided to keep the convoy there, only partly unloaded by nightfall? Local authorities, of course. About 12 were killed, they say 18 wounded, and probably a few unharmed in the attack. About 40 people, let’s say, seem to be present at the time. Workers, loaders, drivers for (18?) trucks, overseers, etc. This might be a small crew, making unloading slow.
Who kept them in a known spot until it was dark, when someone killed them, and videos can’t prove who as easily? Who didn’t send more help, letting the offloading drag on so late? Was it someone who wanted to world to see a lot of aid destroyed by Assad-Putin? Someone like this Muslim Brotherhod-looking guy picking up pieces of human flesh to wave at the camera as he explains the results of his own investigation? Are these really trustworthy people?
[What appears to be a staged photo, where ‘rebels’ appear to have draped a Red Crescent jacket over an old bombed-out car at another alleged ‘Russian/Syrian Army airstrike’ on a “humanitarian warehouse” location]
Foreign-supported, anti-government, Islamist rebels administered this whole area, and helped set up the circumstances. Did they and their allies set up the rest of it as well? The location would be known to that Russian drone, and to any Russians who mattered. But it would be even more surely known about by FSA-linked Islamist false-flag units, to every terrorist with a mortar or rocket launcher in the area.So, we’d better hope there’s finally some real proof it was something flying that did it.
[Al Nusra terrorist-linked, US-UK-EU-funded ‘NGO’ The White Helmets’ seem to be on the scene with their usual video crews filming to create a western narrative of events]
The lauded “White Helmets” were involved and cited as one source convincing the US there was an “airstrike”. But they don’t seem to save anyone here, that we see. They have explanations why. The SARC, by the way, are non-Islamist “competitors” to the White helmets, and maintain relations with the Syrian government (to some, they’re “agents of the regime.”)
But the terrorists and their supporters were clear it was a jet/helicopter/both, from Russia or Syria or both/whatever/not us. Uh-huh. Hell, they could have just raided the place, robbed and executed the aid workers, torched the trucks, and lobbed a few shells on it afterwards. Hypothetically.We’re still waiting to hear survivor stories, from verified witnesses, allowed to speak (unlikely). And besides, all of them would pass through White Helmets hands first. Incriminating videos could be deleted from their phones, etc.
Analysis of the scene and damage is not cited as a reason to blame an “airstrike.” It seems unneeded, with all the unexplained total proof they must have. But people are looking. As Russia’s MoD noted, and we at ACLOS so far agree, there doesn’t seem to be a single crater in the available images, from an alleged 2-4 barrel bombs plus jet missiles. The road seems unnaturally smooth, as well as wet. It’s seen being bulldozed a bit, and sprayed down with water for no clear reason. it seems filled-in and re-graded by morning, making it hard to read any craters for direction of fire, etc.
[Another photo from EU-funded ‘Aleppo Media Centre’ shows the contents of the truck in tact demonstrating clearly that this truck was in fact ransacked and not hit by an airstrike]