New Evidence Emerges that Strike on UN Convoy Not by Russian or Syrian Air Power; Lavrov Expresses Impatience with Washington’s Game of Not Separating “Moderates” from Al-Nusra; Kerry Continues Habit of Sticking Foot in Mouth

Syria ceasefire is 'not dead' insists Kerry, despite attack on aid convoy

(http://www.euronews.com/2016/09/21/syria-ceasefire-is-not-dead-insists-kerry-despite-attack-on-aid-convoy)

A deadly attack on a UN aid relief convoy near Aleppo, on September 19th, was initially reported as an airstrike and blamed by Washington, particularly Secretary of State John Kerry, on Syria and/or Russia.  However, the UN was later forced to admit that it could not confirm if, in fact, an airstrike was responsible for the attack.   The Duran provided the following details, including the response from the Russian Defense Ministry:

Russia has laid out its evidence that the Russian air force (and by extension the Syrian air force) could not have taken part in the attack on the UN convoy.

The UN has since retracted from saying the convoy was attacked from the air, which reinforces the narrative that the convoy may have been a false flag operation orchestrated by US backed “moderate rebels” from the ground.

….The Russian Defense Ministry has released data showing that a US coalition drone was in the vicinity of the humanitarian convoy when it was attacked outside Aleppo.

The Russian military has revealed that the unmanned aircraft was a Predator drone, equipped with hellfire missiles.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov laid out the evidence…

“On the evening of September 19, in that specific region, a drone belonging to the international condition, which had taken off from the Incirlik air base in Turkey, was flying at a height of 3,600 meters and traveling at around 200 kilometers per hour.”

“The object was in the area around the town of Urm Al-Kubra, where the convoy was a few minutes before it caught fire.”

“It left after about 30 minutes.”

“Only the owners know what exactly the drone was doing at this particular area at that exact time.”

The owners being the USA…which will now need to explain why its drone was over the UN convoy when it was attacked.

Did it do the attacking with hellfire missiles? Did it provide intelligence to “moderate rebels” who did the attacking? We have many questions that need answering, which only American intelligence can answer.

Military analyst and blogger, Moon of Alabama, has written about which of the parties in Syria had a more credible motive for attacking the convoy:

Why would the Syrian Air Force attack the Syrian Red Crescent with which it has good relations and which also works in all government held areas? Why would the Syrian or Russian forces attack a convoy which earlier had passed through government held areas and checkpoints and was thereby not carrying contraband? I find no plausible reason or motive for such an attack. Nor has anyone else come forward with such.

A few days ago the “rebels” had accused the UN, which had goods on the convoy, of partisanship and said they would boycott it. “Rebels” in east Aleppo had demonstrated against UN provided help and said they would reject it. There was a general rejection of the ceasefire by the “rebels” and they were eager to push for a wider and bigger war against Syria and its allies. Al-Qaeda in Syria even made a video against the ceasefire. A part of the ceasefire deal is to commonly fight al-Qaeda. They naturally want the deal to end. The attack on the aid convoy seems to help their case.

The motive argument makes an attack by the “rebels” plausible and an attack by Syria and its allies implausible.

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, at a UN Security Council meeting last week, called for an impartial and independent investigation into the attack on the aid convoy.  To further let Washington know that Moscow is on to its skulduggery in Syria, Lavrov also stated that Russia would no longer make concessions unless Washington demonstrated concretely that it was separating “moderate rebels” from terrorist organizations like Al-Nusra and its myriad aliases.

Russia will “no longer take seriously” requests that its own or Syrian forces make unilateral concessions regarding the ceasefire, without the Western coalition providing proof it’s trying to separate moderates from terrorists, the foreign minister said.

In an extensive interview with Russia TV’s Vesti v Subbotu (News on Saturday), Sergey Lavrov reiterated that “the revival of the ceasefire is possible exclusively on collective basis.” If the US and its coalition partners fail to provide credible proof that they have “a sincere intention” to dissociate terrorists from the so-called moderate opposition “our suspicions that this all is being done to take the heat off Al-Nusra Front will strengthen.” 

 

The events of the past few days, however, showed the reverse trend, as more rebel groups started merging with Al-Nusra Front, Lavrov said, citing a statement from Russia’s General Staff.

One of such radical groups close to Al-Nusra Front is Ahrar Al-Sham, which refused to adhere to the Russia-US agreement as the deal targets its ally, Lavrov said. Russia has been demanding it be designated terrorist for a long time, to little effect. 

“If everything again boils down to asking Russia’s and Syria’s Air Forces to take unilateral steps – such as, ‘Give us another three- or four-day pause and after that we will persuade all opposition groups that this is serious and that they must cut ties with Al-Nusra Front’ – such talk will not be taken seriously by us anymore,” the Russian FM said.

Robert Parry at Consortium News pointed out that Kerry’s shoot-from-the-hip pronouncements about Syrian or Russian responsibility for war crimes prior to any meaningful investigation is a disturbing pattern:

Eager to go on the propaganda offensive – especially after a U.S. military airstrike last Saturday killed scores of Syrian soldiers who were battling the Islamic State in eastern Syria – Kerry pounced on an initial report that the attack on the convoy on Monday was an airstrike and then insisted that the Russians must have been responsible because one of their jets was supposedly in the area.

Secretary of State John Kerry (right) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. (U.N. photo)

Secretary of State John Kerry (right) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. (U.N. photo)

But the United Nations – and I’m told CIA analysts – have not ruled out the possibility that the convoy was instead hit by a surface-to-surface missile. On Friday, a source briefed by U.S. intelligence said one fear is that the jihadist group, Ahrar al-Sham, which has fought alongside Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front but is deemed to be part of the “moderate” opposition, may have used a U.S.-supplied TOW missile in the attack.

Ahrar al-Sham, like some other jihadist groups seeking to overthrow the Syrian government, has objected to limited cease-fires arranged by the Russians and the Americans, which still allowed attacks on its ally, the recently rebranded Nusra Front. Ahrar al-Sham thus had a motive for destroying the aid convoy, an act which indeed has upended efforts to negotiate an end to the five-year-old conflict and led to bloody new attacks inside the embattled city of Aleppo on Friday.

Another possibility was that a Syrian government warplane was targeting a rebel artillery piece traveling alongside the convoy and struck the convoy by accident. But the assignment of blame required additional investigation, as other international officials acknowledged.

On Tuesday, a day before Kerry’s outburst, the U.N. revised its initial statement citing an airstrike, with Jens Laerke, a humanitarian affairs representative for the U.N., saying: “We are not in a position to determine whether these were in fact airstrikes. We are in a position to say that the convoy was attacked.” He called the earlier reference to an airstrike a drafting error.

Nevertheless, on Wednesday, Kerry made his high-profile denunciation of the Russians at the U.N. Security Council, the same venue where Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2003 presented a false case against Iraq for possessing hidden stockpiles of WMD. In fiery comments, Kerry accused Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of living “in a parallel universe” in denying Russian responsibility.

“The eyewitnesses will tell you what happened,” Kerry said. “The place turned into hell and fighter jets were in the sky.”

Yet, the two points don’t necessarily connect. Just because there are jets in the sky doesn’t mean they fired the rocket that struck the convoy. They might have, but to determine that – and if so, who was flying the jet that fired the missile – requires more thorough study.

Kerry also sought to excuse the U.S. airstrike near Deir ez-Zor last Saturday that killed some 62 Syrian soldiers, saying: We did it, a terrible accident. And within moments of it happening, we acknowledged it. … But I got to tell you, people running around with guns on the ground, from the air, is a very different thing from trucks in a convoy with big U.N. markings all over them.”

But what Kerry ignored was the fact that the United States has no legal authority to be conducting military operations inside Syria, attacks supposedly targeting the terrorist Islamic State but lacking the approval of the Syrian government. In other words, under international law, any such U.S. attacks are acts of aggression and thus war crimes.

….Kerry also has a history of jumping ahead of a story and then going silent when further information is developed.

Read the full article here.

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