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World

Shaky Cease-Fire Ends In Syria With A Bang

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And let's hear more now about Syria, where that week-long cease-fire is over. The government unilaterally made that declaration and resumed heavy air attacks, particularly on areas held by the opposition around Aleppo. Several airstrikes hit a humanitarian aid convoy that was coordinated by the United Nations. Here's NPR's Alice Fordham.

ALICE FORDHAM, BYLINE: Pro-opposition media uploaded a video of fire trucks and earthmovers this morning clearing the still smoldering scene of the convoy attack.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

FORDHAM: "They killed civilians and truck drivers carrying aid," says one man. Some were volunteers. Witnesses say at least 18 trucks were hit as well as an aid warehouse and a health center. U.N. spokesman Jens Laerke was furious.

JENS LAERKE: We condemn what happened in the strongest possible terms, not least taking into account that the notification of this convoy had been given, and the convoy was clearly marked.

FORDHAM: Other U.N. officials say if an investigation confirms that the perpetrators knew they were hitting an aid convoy, that would amount to a war crime. American officials say the perpetrators could only be the Syrian air force or its Russian allies. Activists reported other civilian and rebel casualties from regime attacks on Aleppo yesterday.

Under the terms of last week's cease-fire, Syrian authorities were meant to give permission for aid to move to opposition-held areas. But two convoys that moved yesterday were the first to get permission this month. After the attack, the U.N. halted all aid movements.

When the U.S. and Russia announced that plan for a lull in violence and an increase in aid delivery 10 days ago, they both said that if it worked they would consider military cooperation against extremists. That now looks less likely, though Russian and American officials still plan to meet on the sidelines at the U.N. General Assembly today in New York. Alice Fordham, NPR News, Beirut. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.