Tuesday, September 20
It's getting progressively harder to lie about Syria
Remember that blanket drone surveillance Russia set up to monitor violations of the ceasefire in Syria?
The United Nations, Red Cross and United States had all described Monday's incident as an air strike, implicitly pinning the blame on Russian or Syrian aircraft that fly in the area for breaking the ceasefire with an attack on a humanitarian target.
But the U.N. revised a statement to remove the phrase "air strikes" and replace it with references to unspecified "attacks". U.N. humanitarian spokesman Jens Laerke said the original reference to air strikes was probably a drafting error, saying the U.N. was not in a position to determine if they were air strikes but was sure the convoy was "attacked."RT, September 20, 20:34:
“Russian and Syrian warplanes did not carry out any airstrikes on a UN humanitarian aid convoy in the southwest of Aleppo,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement Tuesday.
The Russian Center for Reconciliation said that it had used drones to accompany the convoy because its route passed through territory controlled by the rebels, but only to a certain point.
"Around 13:40 Moscow time [10:40 GMT Monday] 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.
The Defense Ministry spokesman said that the Russian military had been looking at video footage from the scene and that there was no sign of the convoy being targeted by shells or an airstrike.
“We have closely studied the video footage from where the incident took place and we did not find any signs of any ammunition having hit the convoy. There are no craters, while the vehicles have their chassis intact and they have not been severely damaged, which would have been the case from an airstrike,” Konashenkov said.
“All of the video footage demonstrates that the convoy caught fire, which strangely happened almost at exactly at the same time as militants started a large scale offensive on Aleppo.”The above Reuters quotes are taken from several paragraphs into the report. Now I'll go to the beginning of the report; emphasis mine:
The United States believes two Russian aircraft attacked an aid convoy near Aleppo in a strike that shattered a one-week truce, U.S. officials said on Tuesday, but Russia denied involvement.
Despite the military blame game over Monday's deadly attack, diplomats struggled to save the U.S.-Russian ceasefire agreement that took effect on Sept. 12.
The incident, in which 18 trucks from a 31-vehicle convoy were destroyed, looked likely to deal a death blow to diplomatic efforts to halt a civil war now in its sixth year.
Two Russian Sukhoi SU-24 warplanes were in the skies above the aid convoy at the exact time it was struck late on Monday, two U.S. officials told Reuters, citing U.S. intelligence that led them to conclude Russia was to blame.While Reuters doesn't say this, the UN probably revised its statement after the Russian defense ministry showed video footage taken from the drone surveillance to Staffan de Mistura's staff at the United Nations.
So what's really going on here? From reading between the lines of the rest of the Reuters report, I'd say the White Helmets lied their heads off, and the U.S. military either didn't bother to check their story before running with it, or hoped it would fly.