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How the Russian MoD Invented a US Bombing of Aleppo

February 11, 2016

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

This post originally appeared in Russian in the blog “Noodle Remover”. The following is an abridged translation of that post.

On February 11, during a Russian Ministry of Defense briefing, Major General Igor Konashenkov claimed the following (I highlighted the parts which are of most interest):

Therefore, it is not a tendency. Starting harping on the favorite tune with accusations against Russia of committing all deadly sins as well as hushing up the effectiveness of aviation activities in Syria as a state secret from the taxpayers became regular.

A recent example. Yesterday official spokesman of the Pentagon Colonel Steve Warren being in Iraq stated that allegedly Russian bombers had bombed two hospitals in Aleppo in the daytime [the original is best translated as “that day” – translator’s note]. According to him, as a result, allegedly about 50 thousand Syrians were deprived from vital services. This official spokesman failed to give anything else. No information on the time, coordinates and sources of this data. Just nothing.

<…>

The Russian Ministry of Defence [sic!] has thoroughly analyzed all the data concerning the targets engaged yesterday in the Aleppo province. First of all, Colonel Warren is likely to be disappointed – he did not guess [right – translator’s note]. Russian aircraft did not work near the Aleppo city yesterday. The nearest target to the city was more than 20 km far from it.

<…>

Yesterday at 13:55 (MSK), two A-10 attack aircraft of the U.S. Air Force entered the Syrian air space from the territory of Turkey and reaching Aleppo by the shortest path made strikes against objects in the city so that one wouldn’t wish for more. Colonel Warren, for some reason, did not make this mission public….

As Igor Konashenkov has been repeatedly caught lying, we could satisfy ourselves with a quote from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova:

This is speculation, information confirmed by no facts.

However, I decided to give a closer look to this claim by Russia’s MoD. Here’s what I found out:

A transcript of the briefing given by the anti-ISIS coalition spox Colonel Warren on February 10, to which the Russian MoD refers to, is availablehere. Here’s the segment where Warren speaks about hospital bombings in Aleppo:

With the destruction of the two main hospitals in Aleppo by Russian and regime attacks, over 50 thousand Syrians are now without any access to live-saving assistance. Humanitarian organizations are responding, but ongoing military operations by Russia and the Syrian regime, as well as pro-regime forces are making access to populations in need increasingly difficult.

As you clearly can see, Colonel Warren did not claim the airstrikes were carried out on Wednesday, February 10, the day of the briefing. One can confirm this by searching the briefing transcript for the words “Wednesday”, “today” and the number “10”.

The most recent report of a large hospital being destroyed in Aleppo province was published on February 3, a week before Colonel Warren’s briefing. By the way, Warren’s previous briefing also took place on February 3. It would be logical to assume that the information on the hospital bombed on February 3 was relayed to Warren only in time for the next briefing.

I do not know why Konashenkov assumed his colleague Warren said the Russian bombings happened on February 10. However, I do know that apparently the city of Aleppo wasn’t hit neither by Russian nor US airstrikes on February 10.

Later, Colonel Warren confirmed he indeed did not claim the airstrikes on hospitals happened on February 10:

Searching “ِAirstrikes Aleppo City” on Twitter for reports of bombings yields now reports of airstikes on Aleppo proper on Wednesday, February 10.

1-SK7C-_bY5KEWLubtEopBcA

As you can see, the February 10 tweets mostly refer to countryside or areas around Aleppo, while the tweets about airstrikes on the city proper are reposts of a February 9 report.

In comparison, you can find reports on airstrikes on Aleppo proper for, say, February 8:


If the Russian MoD is to be believed, apparently the locals in Aleppo city somehow didn’t notice US jets striking “objects in the city so that one wouldn’t wish for more”. However, Konashenkov somehow did manage to notice that, but for some reason won’t show us proof of his claims.

To conclude:

  1. Colonel Warren, contrary to Russian MoD claims, did not claim Russian bombers hit hospitals in Aleppo city on February 10.
  2. The locals haven’t reported any airstrikes, American or Russian, inside Aleppo city on February 10.

Thus, we may conclude both claims made in the Russian MoD briefing on February 10 are false, apparently made to shift the blame for civilian deaths in and around Aleppo from Russia and its ally Assad to the Western anti-ISIS coalition.

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121 Comments

    • Andrea

      yes Randy…
      MSF is obviously lying…we all know your point of view…just try to be more constructive…

      Reply
          • Andrea

            sure…first time ever that two volleys of grads launched ad different time land on the same building (a pretty small one) without reported damage in the nearbies XD
            Not even if stalin himself was guiding them ….

          • stranger

            Don’t you think about provocation? The logic is simple, SSA with Russian support and Kurds from the other side actually was close to take over all north-west. Then Turkey and Saudi threatened with an invasion, on the other hand EU and US demanded to cease fire in those areas and requested negotiations. The ‘right’ journalists have supported with the pictures of atrocities and war crimes. Russia was earnestly convinced to stop less than in a week and actually loose all achievements of the last 4 months. Now rebels feel strong in the negotiations with the ‘regime’, and don’t have to look for a compromise to finally cease the war. Having shown its weakness, Russia will be pushed further. That is cynical to say because hospitals or not, cluster or regular, the war inevitably causes civilian victims. The same do US and allies operations against ISIS. So I don’t understand what Russia is doing in this alien war. Good if the sides would be able to negotiate now, but hardly. IMHO

    • Andrea

      A tweet for RandyTroll:
      “5 patients, a caretaker and a hospital guard were killed & 8 members of staff are missing, presumed dead…”
      here for you also few patients…erm…i no, i have to correct…terrorists…also dead…-.-“

      Reply
        • Andrea

          no proofs…
          apart being reported from an international, well known and respected NGO…
          We should instead all trust RandyTROLL 😛

          Reply
  1. Randy Dread

    Andrea – February 15th, 2016
    war may be war, but law is law … and there are laws of war…
    you really think you can discuss this upon a word used in a tweet ????

    The question is why a medical charity would describe its own hospital as ‘an MSF supported structure’. Nobody uses that phrase, they just say ‘hospital’.

    you would think they would already know what it was.

    Reply
    • Andrea

      Because they have no MSF staff working there…
      they have MSF hospitals (with MSF personnel) and MSF supported ones (MSF only giving help)…two different things…also a baby would understand…

      Reply
      • Randy Dread

        so they have no MSF staff working there, and they dont really know what the building is.

        yeah, sounds great.

        did they tell their jihadist colleagues that they need to put a red cross on the roof?

        Reply
  2. Randy Dread

    put it this way.

    if this was an undeclared field hospital treating wounded terrorists, my only regret is that more were not killed.

    Reply
  3. Randy Dread

    Andrea – February 15th, 2016
    sure…first time ever that two volleys of grads launched ad different time land on the same building (a pretty small one) without reported damage in the nearbies XD
    Not even if stalin himself was guiding them ….

    if the Grad launcher didnt alter its targeting its entirely likely.

    and how could the building be small if it was a significant medical facility?

    Reply
    • factism

      Randy, it makes me really sad, what kind of damage you and your buddy in charge are doing to the good in Russia, and likely you will never see it 🙁

      Reply
  4. Mad Dog

    Boy Randy is in overdrive on this one. Blame the MSF for this one, eh. SAA needs tents, sure steal a few from UNHCR, no problemo cause they need tents. Hit a facility that has been on record since 2015 (among several others), nothing to worry about if any terrorists were there, blame the US for a mistaken attack that they apologized for, no big deal,,,,but never, never ever blame the Russians for anything. And you wonder why your credibility really sucks Randy.

    Reply
    • factism

      “removing noodles”: THAT’s a favor of patriotism, some can probably learn of!
      A fact, which sometimes is appreciated even by Russians – Snowden tells us.
      Ok – enough propaganda for today…

      Reply

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