The charred remains of a vehicle in the convoy. (Al-Jazeera)

Russia and Syria both deny responsibility for the deaths of at least 20 people in the bombing of an aid convoy that was carrying desperately needed humanitarian relief to thousands of Syrians.

“The air forces of Russia and Syria did not conduct any strikes against the UN aid convoy in the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.

Konashenkov said the attack doesn’t appear to have been from an airstrike.

Al-Jazeera reports:

The Syrian Civil Defence, a volunteer rescue group known as the White Helmets that operates in rebel-held areas, posted images of several vehicles on fire. A video of the attack showed huge balls of fire against the night sky as ambulances arrived on the scene.

The Russian military “carefully studied the video recordings of the so-called activists from the scene and found no signs that any munitions hit the convoy”, Konashenkov said.

“Everything shown on the video is the direct consequence of the cargo catching fire, and this began in a strange way simultaneously with militants carrying out a massive offensive in Aleppo.” …

A rescue worker who witnessed the convoy attack said more than 20 missiles pounded the area for hours, even hitting his team as they searched the debris for survivors. Hussein Badawi, who leads the White Helmets in Uram al-Kubra, accused Syrian and Russian aircraft of taking part. 

Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general , speaking at the General Assembly in New York, called those who attacked the convoy “cowards”.

“Powerful patrons that keep feeding the war machine also have blood on their hands,” Ban said.

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—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly

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