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UN Report disproves war crime accusation against Russia

The UN has concluded its investigation of the 19 September bombing of a UN aid convoy in Syria. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released the summary of the Board of Inquiry’s report on 21 December, but it received virtually no publicity, unlike the wall-to-wall reporting of the USA’s and UK’s hysterical accusations at the time that Russia deliberately bombed the convoy. The lack of publicity is doubtless because the report proves there was no evidence for the accusations against Russia.

Following is a chronology of the incident:

On 11 September, Russia and the USA agreed to a ceasefire in Syria, which Barack Obama insisted must last seven days before any further Russian-US cooperation in the five-year conflict. Senior officials in the Obama administration, including Defence Secretary Ash Carter, were known to be opposed to any cooperation with Russia.

On 17 September, US, Australian and other members of the US-led coalition in Syria bombed Syrian Arab Army soldiers holding a position against ISIS at Deir ez-Zor. More than 62 soldiers were killed in an attack that lasted more than an hour, and when a Russian officer called the US military’s emergency hotline to inform them they were attacking the Syrian army, the Russian officer was put on hold for 27 minutes! The USA later claimed the attack was an “accident”. (The CEC launched a petition demanding the Australian government withdraw its presence from Syria, as it was only assisting ISIS.)

On 19 September, a UN convoy transporting aid for Aleppo was bombed in an area controlled by rebels. The attack occurred at precisely the moment that the al-Qaeda-led rebels in Aleppo launched a furious offensive to break the Syrian Army lines. It was reported as a bombing, but the burnt out trucks remained intact, and there were no craters or other signs of aerial bombardment. The eyewitness reports that the attack was an aerial bombing came from the so-called White Helmets—British- and American-funded jihadists masquerading as civilian rescuers. The USA and Britain accused Russia of a war crime, and—ignoring the attack on the Syrian army two days earlier—of destroying the ceasefire!

Hysterical propaganda

A 20 September Guardian headline blared: “Russian planes dropped bombs that destroyed UN aid convoy, US officials say”. It cited a Reuters report: “Russian jets carried out strike on Syria aid convoy: U.S. officials”.

The most hysterical accusations came from the British government and Parliament, in an 11 October emergency debate. They were also the most hypocritical and cynical. Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, who moved the debate, compared Russia’s actions in Syria to those of the Nazis in the Spanish Civil War.

Greens leader Caroline Lucas asked Mitchell: “Does he agree that our own Government should follow the example of the French in supporting a referral of Russia to the International Criminal Court?”

Blairite (a crony of disgraced former PM Tony Blair) Labour MP Ann Clwyd—the politician who first publicised the notorious Iraq war lie, that Saddam killed people in a human shredding machine, yet remains completely unapologetic for the illegal invasion of Iraq—called for the UK to take the same approach to Syria as it did to Iraq! “We do not have to wait for the International Criminal Court”, Clwyd urged. “Indict, an organisation that I chaired, collected evidence on Iraqi war crimes years before they were heard. That can be done again, for example through the Foreign Office.” (Emphasis added.)

When Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry at least attempted to inject into the debate the reality that the rebels were predominantly al-Qaeda jihadists, another shameless Blairite Labour MP, Ben Bradshaw, erupted in contrived outrage, and attacked his own colleague: “We had a ceasefire; it was brutally blown apart by Russian and Syrian air power. I still have not heard from my hon. Friend a clear and unequivocal condemnation of Russia’s and Assad’s action. I have not heard her call it out as it is—a war crime!” (Bradshaw is another with the blood of Iraqis on his hands, having aggressively prosecuted the fraudulent case for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and later having voted against convening Sir John Chilcot’s Iraq inquiry into that criminal and disastrous decision.)

Yet another Blairite, John Woodcock, was the most unhinged in hurling wild accusations against Russia for the attack on the convoy: “There is no doubt as to who was the perpetrator of this grotesque war crime. It was President Putin of Russia. He was sticking two fingers up to the United Nations and the international community of which he still has the audacity to claim he is a working part.” (Woodcock is close to Britain’s biggest private defence contractor, BAE Systems—its al-Yamamah arms deal with the brutal Saudi dictatorship has been exposed as having generated a $100 billion slush fund that financed al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attack and the spread of al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorism generally.)

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: “All the available evidence therefore points to Russian responsibility for the atrocity. I trust that the UN board of inquiry will establish exactly what happened, and we in the United Kingdom Government stand ready to help.” Johnson’s speech made headlines for his reiteration of Ann Clwyd’s call for anti-war protestors to demonstrate outside of the Russian embassy in London. It is worth noting that Johnson was interrupted by a question from Prince Charles’s close friend Sir Nicholas Soames, demanding war crime prosecutions for the attack. Another toady for the British arms industry, Soames is notorious for his threats against Princess Diana when she spearheaded the international campaign against land mines just before her death in 1997. (The inquest ruled Diana’s death an “unlawful killing”, which is effectively a verdict of murder, where the perpetrators are not identified.)

The only contributor to this House of Commons debate who emerged with any credibility intact was Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, who exposed the self-righteous hypocrisy of the other contributors by insisting that the UK could not condemn the alleged crimes in Syria while simultaneously arming Saudi Arabia to bomb civilians in Yemen.

UN’s finding

Following are excerpts of numbered sections from the UN Headquarters Board of Inquiry Report summary that Ban Ki-moon released 21 December. While the report still assumes an aerial attack that many experts insist could not have been possible, nevertheless it absolves Russia of a war crime. The findings include:

The area where the convoy was attacked was under the control of Islamist jihadists:

“11. The SARC compound, the incident site, is located approximately 1.5 km east of the town of Urem al-Kubra.”

“13. On the date of the incident, Urem al-Kubra was under the control of armed opposition groups, with Jaish al-Mujahideen being the predominant group in the area. The Board was informed that other groups, including Nour al-Din al-Zenki also had a presence there. In addition, the Board received reports of a Jabhat al-Nusra presence in the area.”

Nour al-Din al-Zenki is one of the so-called “moderate” rebel groups backed by the US, members of which filmed themselves beheading a 12-year-old Palestinian boy in July (the same cameraman later took the staged photo of the five-year-old Aleppo boy in an ambulance that suckered the world media). Jabhat al-Nusra is the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda.

The White Helmets’ claim that a hospital was bombed was bogus:

“33. Despite initial reports that a medical clinic had been destroyed, the Board found no evidence of a medical clinic neighbouring the SARC compound.” (Emphasis added.)

This is an important finding, as the most oft-repeated accusation against Russia is that its aircraft deliberately targeted hospitals in Aleppo. The US and UK-financed White Helmets were the source of these claims, which were always baseless. Not only did they claim dozens of times that the “last hospital” in Aleppo had been destroyed, the recent liberation of Aleppo has proved that almost every site they called a hospital was just a jihadist stronghold.

If the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF) were responsible for the attack, given the convoy’s location in a jihadist-controlled area they most likely thought it was a military target:

“36. … The Board considered that the location of the SARC compound, on the outskirts of a populated area, in an industrial zone and astride one of the two primary roads leading to southwestern Aleppo, made it a realistic possibility that the buildings around it were used by armed opposition groups prior to the date of the incident. Therefore the Board considered that it had most likely been attacked by pro-Government forces.”

The UN found no evidence to prove that SAAF perpetrated the attack; an SAAF attack does not implicate Russia:

“39. The Board stated that it had received reports that information existed to the effect that the SAAF was highly likely to have perpetrated the attack, and even that the attack was carried out by three Syrian Mi-17 model helicopters, followed by three unnamed fixed-wing aircraft, with a single Russian aircraft also suspected of being involved. However, the Board did not have access to raw data to support these assertions and, in their absence, it was unable to draw a definitive conclusion.”

“40. The Board noted in this connection that there were technical issues pertaining to a hypothesis of the incident being a result of a joint Syrian Arab Air Force/Russian Federation strike. The Board had been informed that that the Russian Federation did not conduct joint strikes. A high degree of interoperability and co-ordination would also be required for two air forces to operate in the same airspace, targeting the same location.”

The UN found no evidence of a war crime:

“42. The Board stated that it did not have evidence to conclude that the incident was a deliberate attack on a humanitarian target.”

Since the US presidential election, the Anglo-American establishment and their corporate media lackeys have coined the term “fake news” for anything that contradicts their lies. In fact, many times since the genocidal fiasco of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, it is they who have been exposed as the real peddlers of fake news. The most extreme example is their litany of lies against Russia, but those lies are also the most dangerous, as they have pushed the world towards nuclear war. Thankfully, with Aleppo now liberated from the USA’s and UK’s terrorists, and a change of government in the USA, there is a chance to turn away from the policies of permanent war, and achieve a just international order based on respect for national sovereignty and a commitment to peace through cooperative economic development. As we approach 2017, all people of good will should resolve to ensure that it happens.

NOTES

Although candobetter.net's philosophy of land-use and population policy reform runs counter to that of the Citizens Electoral Council, we are pleased to publish this press release about Syria and Russia.

The source of this article was a press release dated 30 December 2016, from Craig Isherwood‚ National Secretary of the Citizens' Electoral Council

PO Box 376‚ COBURG‚ VIC 3058

Phone: 1800 636 432

Email: cec@cecaust.com.au

Website: http://www.cecaust.com.au