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About 20 civilians killed in Syria aid convoy attack near Aleppo

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A damaged lorry on the side of the road in Urem al-Kubra.
A damaged lorry on the side of the road in Urem al-Kubra.

Geneva (AFP) - 20 Sep. 2016- The air raids that hit an aid convoy near Aleppo killed around 20 people, including a Red Crescent staff member, the humanitarian organisation said Tuesday.
"Around twenty civilians and one SARC staff member were killed as they were unloading trucks carrying vital humanitarian aid," the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said in a statement.
Monday's raid on the convoy destroyed at least 18 of 31 vehicles, as well as a Red Crescent warehouse in Orum al-Kubra in Aleppo province.
"Much of the aid was destroyed," IFRC said, stressing that "the attack deprives thousands of civilians of much-needed food and medical assistance."
According to IFRC, Syria is one of the world's most dangerous conflicts for humanitarian workers.

 UN suspends Syria aid convoys after deadly air strikes

The UN said Tuesday it had suspended all humanitarian aid convoys in Syria after a deadly air raid hit trucks delivering aid near Aleppo, killing several civilians including a senior employee of the Syrian Red Crescent.

As an "immediate security measure, other convoy movements in Syria have been suspended," Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency told reporters in Geneva.

This marks a "very, very dark day for humanitarians in Syria and indeed across the world," he said, stressing that it was "paramount that we are able to establish the facts through an independent investigation."

The UN said at least 18 trucks in the 31-vehicle convoy were destroyed late Monday en route to deliver humanitarian assistance to the hard-to-reach town of Orum al-Kubra, west of Aleppo.

Laerke said the convoy had been carrying food and non-food aid for some 78,000 people.

The aid was "intended for people in dire need... This aid will now not reach those people," he said, stressing that attacks on humanitarian workers has "an exponential effect on thousands of other people."

UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien called the attacks "sickening" and said he was "disgusted and horrified". He underscored that all groups operating in the region had received notification of the convoy.

There is no excuse "for waging war on brave and selfless humanitarian workers", O’Brien said, warning that if they were deliberately targeted "it would amount to a war crime".

The war has claimed more than 300,000 lives, including some 87,000 civilians -- 15,000 of them children -- according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The UN humanitarian agency on Tuesday demanded an investigation into Monday's airstrikes on the convoy, which had been carrying desperately needed aid for some 78,000 people.
"From what we know of yesterday's attack, there has been a flagrant violation of International Humanitarian Law, which is totally unacceptable," Peter Maurer, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said in Tuesday's statement.