Live Updates: The Russian Ministry of Defence claims that American attack jets bombed Aleppo city yesterday and pre-emptively blamed Russia for destruction. These claims do not add up very well…
The Russian Ministry of Defense has accused the US Air Force of carrying out air strikes on the rebel-held city of Aleppo and attempting to pass the blame onto Russia.
“Yesterday, at 13:55 Moscow time (10:55 GMT), two American A-10 assault aircraft entered Syrian airspace from Turkey, flew right to the city of Aleppo and bombed targets there.”
Konashenkov said that a Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Steven Warren, had yesterday claimed that Russian jets had bombed hospitals in Aleppo so as to pre-emptively deflect blame away from the US.
According to Konashenkov, there were no Russian air strikes on the city of Aleppo yesterday.
“I’m going to be honest with you: we did not have enough time to clarify what exactly those nine objects bombed out by US planes in Aleppo yesterday were. We will look more carefully.
What they do first is make unfounded accusations against us – to deflect blame away from themselves. If it goes on like this, we’re going to make two media briefings: one for ourselves, another for those coalition guys.”
First of all, it’s important to point out that Colonel Warren did not say that Russian jets had bombed two hospitals on Wednesday, instead he refers to “the destruction of two hospitals in Aleppo by Russian and regime attacks.” No specific date for the destruction of those hospitals was given. Furthermore there is extensive evidence of the bombing of Syrian hospitals by Russian or regime forces, with multiple claims from medical groups and activists.
The blame shifting claimed by Konashenkov is therefore a total fabrication.
Moving on the claim that US A-10s flew from Turkish airspace into the Aleppo province and bombed the city in the midst of a massive Russian air campaign in the area, we are extremely skeptical.
Unless the Russian MOD could provide hard evidence of such a claim, it should be treated as false. Considering the extensive Russian air defence coverage of the area, with S-400 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) deployed and within range, and the high tensions between Russia and Turkey, it seems extremely unlikely that two non-stealthy attack jets would make it all the way to Aleppo and back without coming under fire. Furthermore, we would expect Russian jet fighters, which have been flying combat air patrol and escort missions in this area since Turkish F-16s downed a Russian Su-24 bomber in November last year, to have intercepted any flight crossing the frontier.
Russian jets were yesterday reported widely to have conducted multiple air strikes to the north and west of Aleppo, if not on the city itself, so the A-10s would have had to fly right through airspace in which numerous Russian jets were conducting combat operations.
The bizarre claims come as the Kremlin steps up a propaganda campaign that appears to be running without even the faintest hint of plausibility.
Just yesterday, foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told reporters that all claims that Russia was using unguided or dumb bombs were false, despite the fact that such weapons can be seen in official MOD footage.
Just today, the MOD’s own Zvezda channel used a still of two free-fall, unguided bombs to illustrate a story on Russian operations in Syria.
Meanwhile the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency, reporting MOD claims that Russia was using a comprehensive intelligence-gathering system to verify targets and “exclude risk for civilians,” used a photo of a Russian air strike on a grain silo.
Compare the image used with those of such silos in an earlier report: