UN Official Walks Back on Evidence of Airstrike on Convoy, Basis of Blaming Russia; Meetings and Dialogue on Syria Continue
Sept. 21, 2016 (EIRNS)—Despite the atrocities of this week’s attack on an aid convoy near Aleppo, and last week’s U.S.-led air strike on Syrian soldiers, efforts continue for talks on Syria. Last night in Manhattan, the ISSG (International Syrian Support Group) met, after which Secretary of State John Kerry said,
"The cease-fire is not dead. We are going to continue to work. We are going to meet again Friday on some specific steps."
This morning, the UN Security Council held a High Level meeting on Syria (pre-planned), which heads of state could attend. Initial reports are that it was a rough session, of accusations.
There are rightly many caveats which have been re-iterated about the process. As Russian Amb. Vitaly Churkin said last night, "It is impossible to ask other members of the UN Security Council to approve the [ceasefire] deal," if the U.S. side continues to refuse to allow the contents to be made known. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated this morning, "The key priority is to separate the opposition forces from the terrorists."
Over the last 24 hours, more than one European government official at the ISSG meeting has expressed the obvious fear over the whole desperate process breaking down completely: if the United States continues to confront Russia, and no talks are possible, the situation is hopelessly dangerous. Last night, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson put it, the U.S.-Russian effort is being seen as, "the only show in town." What if it blows up?
On the outrageous, specific charges from the White House war party, on the question of the nature of the attack on the Red Cross/Red Crescent convoy—which the U.S. asserts was a Russian air strike, the initial report from the United Nations has now been corrected by a UN official. The Russian authorities have definitively denied U.S. charges three times.
UN humanitarian spokesman Jens Laerke said the references to air strikes in the original UN aid 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. This corresponds with Russian analyses of photos and other evidence, showing likely ground-based attacks.
As of today, the aid flows remain suspended. However, talks continue in Geneva to be in readiness for resumption, if the process of dialogue and ceasefire can be righted.