Syria has been the scene of a civil war for the past five years. A recent cease fire deal held the promise of peace one day. Even if that day would be in the distant future.
But the cease fire was repeatedly broken since it was announced. The two major powers that sponsored the deal could not get the fighting to stop, at least temporarily.
The United States kept sending out reassuring messages that the cease fire was still holding. And the United Nations went ahead with plans to deliver humanitarian aid to thousands of Syrians caught in the crossfire.
Humanitarian Convoy Attacked
But despite good intentions, the reality of the situation on the ground in Syria hit hard when even a humanitarian convoy was the target of an attack.
An air strike hit a UN convoy formed of 18 trucks with humanitarian aid. It happened in the Uram al-Kubra district, just west of the city of Allepo. The area was in desperate need of help and supplies. The Red Cross said that at least 20 people were killed in the attack.
After the attack on the humanitarian convoy that took place Monday night, the United Nations suspended all aid convoys to Syria. A UN official called the bombing an act of cowardice, saying that it could be construed as a war crime.
The United Nations announced the suspension of aid convoys to Syria at a pivotal point. This week is the annual General Assembly of the United Nations. World leaders are meeting in New York to discuss international matters. Among the issues on the table is the Syrian conflict. It has been going on for five years now and is one of the biggest challenges for the international organization.
It was the last time Ban Ki-moon gave an opening speech for a General Assembly of the United Nations. He is going to step down soon, after serving for ten years as Secretary General. He took the opportunity to address the Syrian conflict and what had happened. “Just when we think it cannot get any worse, the bar of depravity sinks lower”, he said. He called the attack on the humanitarian convoy “sickening, savage and apparently deliberate”.
The Position of the Obama Administration
The Obama administration talked about the event. Officials said that the White House holds Russia responsible for what happened. As a sponsor of the cease fire agreement that Russia and the United States had reached together, the foreign power should have tried to prevent the incident.
Benjamin Rhodes is the deputy national security adviser. He spoke publicly about the attack, saying that Russia should have ensured a pause in all air operations. At least for a perimeter where humanitarian assistance was flowing.
That was the public positioning of the United States regarding the attack on the humanitarian convoy.
But on diplomatic channels, the American side was still hoping to salvage the agreement. The cease fire deal took a long time to complete, after a series of meetings between John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. But it was something that gave hope to all stakeholders that there might be a conceivable end to the conflict in Syria.
Image source: UN