Sept. 20, 2016 3:40 p.m. ET
U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Russian aircraft conducted the strike that targeted a humanitarian aid convoy in northern Syria on Monday, according to U.S. officials.
Secretary of State John Kerry initially had suggested that Syrian aircraft were responsible for the strikes on the U.N. convoy, which killed at least 12 people. U.S. officials said new intelligence indicates that Russian forces, rather than the Syrians, conducted the strike.
U.S. officials said the Russian and Syrian governments had been notified in advance to the presence of the 31-truck convoy to ensure it wouldn’t be bombed by their forces in the area.
“There was coordination ahead of time with the Russians,” a U.S. official said.
White House officials declined to comment on the new intelligence.
The U.S. assertion runs counter to public statements by Moscow and Damascus, which both denied involvement in the strike on the aid convoy.
The attack on the convoy threw into new doubt prospects for reviving a cease-fire brokered by Mr. Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, earlier this month.
The bombing of the convoy also stoked doubts within the Obama administration that it can trust Moscow to meet its obligations under the cease-fire deal, U.S. officials said.
In its statement on Tuesday, the Russian military said the aid convoy was observed by unmanned aircraft passing through territory controlled by the rebels.
After the aid was safely delivered at 1:40 p.m. local time, the Russian center monitoring the warring sides in Syria stopped tracking the convoy, the statement added.
“Any further information on the whereabouts of the convoy was known only to the militants controlling these areas,” it said.
Russia’s military also sought to discount the account of activists who presented video evidence of the attack.
The Russian military said it observed “no signs” the convoy had been struck by munitions and said that surrounding vehicles and buildings didn’t show the characteristic blast effects from an airstrike.
The Russian military on Tuesday evening also released what it claimed was drone footage of a pickup truck carrying a heavy mortar and driving past the humanitarian convoy.
Tags: Aleppo, Assad, ceasefire, cese-fire, John Kerry, Lavrov, Putin, Russia, Russian air strike, Russian forces conducted strike that killed at least 12 in humanitarian air convoy, Russian military, Russian military said the aid convoy was observed by unmanned aircraft passing through territory controlled by the rebels, Syria, U.S. intelligence