September 2016 Urum al-Kubra Aid Convoy Attack
|Part of the Syrian Civil War|
Urum al-Kubra (Syria)
|Time||Began sometime between 7:12 - 7:50 p.m. or at around 8 p.m.|
|Date||19 September 2016|
|Location||Urum al-Kubra, Aleppo Governorate, Syria|
|Coordinates||36°09′06″N 36°58′04″E / 36.151583°N 36.967750°E|
A U.N. and Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid convoy at a warehouse along Highway 60 in the rebel-held city of Urum al-Kubra, approximately 15 km west of the city of Aleppo in the Aleppo Governorate of Syria, was destroyed during a late Monday night attack on 19 September 2016. Syrian rebels, the U.S. coalition, and their media outlets have accused the Syrian government, and shortly thereafter the Russian government, for the attack. The Russian and Syrian governments, their allies, and their media outlets have accused terrorist organizations operating in Aleppo of carrying out the attack and have further accused the U.S. coalition of using the attack to distract from the September 2016 Deir ez-Zor air raid on the Syrian government. Each side rejects the accusations made by the other; accusations that have resulted in allegations of war crimes by the U.S. coalition against the Russian and Syrian governments as well as a substantial deterioration in diplomatic relations between Russia and the nations of the U.S. coalition, particularly with the United States.
Deir Ez Zor district is currently one of the few remaining Syrian Government strongholds in Eastern Syria. On 17 September 2016, the U.S. Coalition bombed Syrian troops in the city resulting in the deaths of between 90 and 106 Syrian Arab Army soldiers and 110 other soldiers wounded. The attack triggered "a diplomatic firestorm", with Russia calling an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting in response of the incident. Days later, on 19 September the Syrian government declared the ceasefire over effective at 7:00 p.m. (Damascus Time) and cited this U.S coalition's bombing at Deir ez-Zor as the reason. Shortly afterwards that same day, beginning sometime between 7:12 - 7:50 p.m. or at around 8 p.m., the aid convoy was attacked.
Departure and Arrival
According to the New York Times, the Red Crescent aid convoy of 31 trucks departed at 10:50 a.m from its origin in Syrian government controlled territory and although the convoy "was marked conspicuously with the logos of the United Nations and the Red Crescent," as the convoy was meant to have been accompanied by UN staff members, there were no UN staff members aboard since "the Syrian government had blocked them." This single UN approved convoy, manned entirely by Syrian Red Crescent members, has been variously referred to as a U.N. convoy, Red Crescent convoy, and as a U.N.-Red Crescent convoy. The New York Times reported that aid workers accompanying the aid convoy were members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, which consists of "self-governed local branches in rebel territory" while it is "state-supervised in government areas." About an hour after departing, the aid convoy reached the Syrian government controlled "Death Square" roundabout (named years ago after a car accident), the last government held checkpoint before entering rebel territory, where the convoy's Red Crescent volunteers from Aleppo switched places with Red Crescent volunteers from rebel-held Urum al-Kubra.
The attack began sometime between 7:12 - 7:50 p.m. or at approximately 8 p.m. and ended at around midnight that same day. The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that 20 civilians were killed and that 18 of the 31 vehicles were destroyed.
United Nations Response
U.S. Coalition Response
The U.S. and its coalition partners accused the Russian and Syrian governments of carrying out the attacks, which both governments denied, and laid accusations (although not official charges) of war crimes. John Kerry, citing this incident, broke off bilateral ceasefire discussions with Russia. Syrian rebel media outlets and outlets running from the member states of the coalition largely supported the coalition's accusations.
Syrian and Russian Response
The Syrian and Russian governments denied the charges and instead blamed the attack on terrorists groups operating in Aleppo. The Russian government further accused the U.S. of being aware of Russia's innocence and of using this attack to deflect attention away from the coalition's then recent attack against the Syrian government, which the U.S. denied. Syrian and Russian media outlets, as well as many of the outlets of their allies, largely supported their own government's accusations.
- "164 killed yesterday 17/09/2016". SOHR. 18 September 2016.
- Leith Fadel. "US Coalition knew they were bombing the Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor". almasdarnews.com. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
- "Syria ceasefire under threat after US-led strikes kill regime troops, Russia says". CNN. 18 September 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
- Leith Fadel (19 September 2016). "[Breaking] Syrian Army command declares ceasefire over". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
- "UN opens probe into Syria aid convoy attack". AFP. France 24. 30 September 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
- Anne Barnard and Somini Sengupta (24 September 2016). "'From Paradise to Hell': How an Aid Convoy in Syria Was Blown Apart". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
- Louisa Loveluck and Thomas Gibbons-Neff (24 September 2016). "'Why did they wait to kill us?': How the attack on the aid convoy near Aleppo unfolded". The Washington Post. Retrieved 13 October 2016.