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‘From Paradise to Hell’: Syrian Aid Convoy Blown Apart

September 26, 2016
Plain English Version
An aid truck in Urum al-Kubra, Syria, on the outskirts of Aleppo the morning after airstrikes on a convoy. Photo credit Omar Haj Kadour/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

An aid truck in Urum al-Kubra, Syria, on the outskirts of Aleppo the morning after airstrikes on a convoy. Photo credit Omar Haj Kadour/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The cease-fire in Syria had a goal. It was to get aid to the starving people in Aleppo. It took weeks for all the parties to agree to the cease-fire. Russia and the U.S. signed the agreement.

The aid convoy started last Monday. The Syrian government allowed the aid trucks to go forward. It inspected the cargo to make sure it had no weapons. At the last minute, it did not let people from the United Nations go on the trucks.

The convoy reached its goal. It started to unload the trucks. A man on the ground supervised the work. His name was Omar Barakat. He was chief of the Red Crescent. He was able to work with all the different groups.

Today, Omar Barakat is dead. He died along with twenty others when Russia and Syria launched an air attack on the convoy. Not that Russia or Syria admit they did it. But, the evidence is clear.

An attack on an aid convoy is a war crime. A U.N. official said it was a new low in spiritual depravity. An observer said, “We went from paradise to hell.” Experts said even people who wanted only to help the helpless came under attack.

The explosions started about seven p.m. and lasted for hours. There were large fireballs. Trucks were set aflame. The sound of helicopters and jets filled the air.

Syria and Russia first blamed the United States. Then they said maybe the explosions happened by themselves. Syrian social media said that the Russians had attacked a rebel group. Social media went on to say it was wrong. The attack was a mistake.

The U.N. and the Red Crescent are careful about assigning blame. Journalists and experts interviewed dozens of witnesses. They reviewed videos. They looked at the records of air spotters. The experts said the evidence showed that the attack was by Russian or Syrian aircraft or both.

The aid convoy had all the permissions it needed. Now it is in ruins and no help is on the way. The cease-fire did not work. Things in Syria are worse than ever.

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump debate tonight at nine p.m., EDT. Maybe Syria will come up.

Source: The New York Times September 24, 2016

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