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Published in Press Stream:
September 20, 2016

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Published in Stream:
September 20, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russia Changes Story To Insinuate UN Aid Convoy Was Destroyed Because Of Proximity To "Terrorists"
5 years
Stream: September 20, 2016
Publication: Putin in Syria
Russia Denies Air Strikes On Aid Convoy Even Took Place, Claims Trucks Were Not Monitored
Major Holes In Russia's Narrative On Airstrike Against UN Convoy; Witnesses Describe The Carnage
The Russian government is changing its story about yesterday's destruction of the UN aid convoy in southwestern Aleppo province. As we reported, earlier the Russian Ministry of Defense stated that there was no evidence the convoy had been hit by an airstrike, and that after ensuring the safety of the convoy, the Russians stopped their surveillance of the vehicles. However, the metadata on the Ministry of Defense's own drone surveillance proves that they were indeed watching the convoy:

Now Russia is changing its tune. Russian state-run propaganda outlets are running a new video, along with a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense, which claims that armed militants were moving in the area of the convoy, using it as "cover." Sputnik carries the following statement from the spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry:

"The examination of the video footage made via drones of the movement of the humanitarian convoy in areas controlled by militants in the province of Aleppo has revealed new details. The video clearly shows how terrorists are redeploying a pickup with a large-caliber mortar on it using the convoy as a cover," Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.

Sputnik adds:

[Konashenkov] said that "it is unclear yet who accompanies whom: the [pickup with a] mortar accompanies the convoy with "White Helmets" volunteers or vise versa. And most importantly, where did the mortar disappear near the destination point of the convoy and what was the target of its fire during the convoy's stop and unloading?"

This video appears to show a vehicle, towing an artillery piece, driving near a convoy of parked trucks.

There are several problems with the Russian MOD's claim (not the least of which is that they are changing their story).

First, we have reviewed the footage the Russian MOD released yesterday, and this footage was NOT part of that video. Furthermore, we have been unable to confirm that these videos even show the same general location.

Bellow is a screenshot from the new video. Note the median strip to the left of the truck towing the artillery piece:

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2016-09-20 20:34:15
Yesterday's video, analyzed here, shows many of the trucks unloading, but does not show a median strip like that. Note that in the image below, the trucks on the left are parked and the trucks on the right appear to be unloading. Traffic appears to move in both directions:
Set as default press image
2016-09-20 20:36:10

We have not been able to find any video of a median strip such as the one shown in the video above anywhere near the area where the aid convoy was destroyed. 

The new video also looks very different than the video released yesterday. It is tightly zoomed, making it harder to identify the location of the vehicles shown. It is also very short, just 36 seconds long. The video stops, then zooms in on the suspected artillery piece, which gives the impression that the vehicle itself stopped driving, but this cannot be confirmed from watching the video itself because it is cut off so abruptly.

In other words, yesterday's video, clocking in at two hours and 25 minutes long, may have been a little too honest, but this one is carefully framed and edited.

But as we can see from watching yesterday's video, traffic comes and goes as the UN aid convoy unloads. If this truck did drive by the convoy, it would have been one of dozens that did so.

In other words, it now appears that the Russian military is trying to use this one truck, which may or may not have been near this particular aid convoy, to excuse an airstrike that they claimed earlier never happened.

Meanwhile, the United States has reached a "preliminary conclusion" that Russian warplanes are the ones that attacked the convoy, according to CNN: 

UN aid convoy hit by warplanes in Syria

Twelve people involved in the aid delivery were killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based organzation that monitors the conflict in Syria. At least 32 people in total were killed in strikes that hit Aleppo and its western suburbs, SOHR said.

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Sep 21, 2016 00:45 (GMT)
-- James Miller