An attack on a United Nations aid convoy and on a Red Crescent warehouse in Aleppo should be investigated as possible war crimes. The apparent airstrikes on September 19, 2016, hit the convoy and building for over three hours with no military targets in the vicinity. The attacks violate the laws of armed conflict and would constitute war crimes if they intentionally targeted personnel, vehicles, or installations involved in providing humanitarian assistance.
Only Syrian and Russian air forces are known to be active in this part of Syria.In a statement on September 19, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that the UN-Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy was hit in Urum al-Kubra, southwest of the city of Aleppo. A Red Crescent warehouse was also hit and a health clinic operated by the Red Crescent was damaged, the organization said. It said that 20 civilians and one staff member were killed as they unloaded trucks, and that most of the aid, including food and medical supplies that was meant to help at least 78,000 people, was destroyed. The UN said that the convoy had received proper permits from the Syrian government in advance to cross from government-controlled Aleppo to parts of opposition-held western Aleppo to deliver the aid.“The apparent targeting of a humanitarian convoy that had been cleared to operate and a known aid warehouse raises serious questions about whether the strikes were intentional,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director. “An independent UN-led investigation is needed to determine if this was a deliberate attack on civilians.” Human Rights Watch called on the UN secretary-general to announce at a high level session of the Security Council set to meet on September 21, that he will promptly seek to identify the parties responsible for the attack and report back to the Council.In a statement released on September 20, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent announced that the head of the Urum al-Kubra branch, Omar Barakat, was killed in the attack and that the organization would suspend its activities in Aleppo for three days.