(Corrects reference in 10th para to satellite imagery)
* Satellite imagery analysis reveals air strike on UN convoy
* US has blamed Russian planes for deadly strike, Moscow
* "We are neutral, we don't have a political agenda" -
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, Oct 5 Analysis of satellite imagery of a
deadly attack on an aid convoy in Syria last month showed that
it was an air strike, a U.N. expert said on Wednesday.
Some 20 people were killed in the attack on the U.N. and
Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy at Urem Al-Kubra near the
northern city of Aleppo that also destroyed 18 of 31 trucks, a
warehouse and clinic.
The United States blamed two Russian warplanes which it said
were in the skies above the area at the time of the incident.
Moscow denies this and says the convoy caught fire.
"We had an image of that and could clearly see the damage
there. With our analysis we determined it was an air strike and
I think multiple other sources have said that as well," Lars
Bromley, research adviser at UNOSAT, told a news briefing.
"For air strikes, what you are usually looking out for is
the size of the crater that is visible and the type of crater,"
he said. A giant crater was caused "almost certainly (by) air
dropped munitions" as opposed to artillery or mortars, he said.
The United Nations has referred officially only to an
"attack", which led to a brief suspension of its convoys in
Syria. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies initially referred to "air strikes" in a
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday he would
establish an internal U.N. board of inquiry to investigate the
attack and urged all parties to fully cooperate.
UNOSAT (U.N. Operational Satellite Applications Programme),
which reviews only commercially available satellite images, has
not been asked to share its analysis with the U.N.
investigators, but is prepared to do so, UNOSAT manager Einar
Bjorgo said. "Our images are from time to time used in order to
brief Security Council members," he said.
Bjorgo, speaking generally, said: "We are neutral. We don't
have a political agenda, we simply state the facts."
UNOSAT has mapped Syria's conflict since it began in 2011,
using satellite imagery to assess population movements and
damage to civilian infrastructure. This enables U.N. agencies
trying to deliver food and medical assistance to besieged areas
to view roadblocks and checkpoints in real time.
Bromley, referring to rebel-held eastern Aleppo that has
been pummelled by Syrian and Russian aircraft for the last 10
"What you see is (that) formerly blasted and blown up areas
are experiencing a great deal of additional damage. So it's
actually hard to do the analysis because to a certain extent you
are looking at rubble being pushed around. But it's certainly
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Mark Heinrich)