13:06 Sep. 2, 2016
Investigative journalists check Russian claim that it did not bomb 5-year-old whose picture became symbol of Aleppo's suffering
Russian Defence Ministry lied about its noninvolvement in the August 17 bombing of Al-Qaterji district in Aleppo city, says Bellingcat.
Using open source information, the investigative journalism organization checked the facts on the airstrike that wounded five-year-old Omran Daqneesh. The photograph which shows the little boy sitting stunned and bloodied in an ambulance shocked the world.
His image became a symbol of Aleppo's endless horror and suffering.
After the photos and video of the airstrike aftermath spread online, and the events were covered by the world's leading news agencies, Russian defence ministry came up with a statement denying responsibility for the attack.
The defence ministry said it never targeted populated areas and the districts located near the humanitarian corridors.
The ministry also said the footage of the boy's rescue showed windows in the house next door intact, indicating that the boy's house was not targeted by an airstrike but was hit with a mine that rebels use.
Bellingcat journalists went through the Russian claims, compared them with open source materials and concluded, that none of the statement corresponded to the facts.
There have been no reports from the ground about two corridors which are open recently and are close to Al-Qatarji district as the Russian Defence Ministry claimed. Photos and videos confirmed that the reported attack site was inside Al-Qaterji district, observers who issue airstrikes warnings confirmed that minutes before the attack an aircraft of the Russian air force was seen leaving Hmeim airport, heading northeast in the direction of Aleppo.
Focusing on the specific claim by the Russian Defence Ministry about "the unaffected windows in the next building" the satellite images showed that not only were the windows of adjacent buildings missing, but two separate buildings were completely destroyed by the attack.
"Having reviewed various broadcasts from "Western TV-channels" about the attack it is unclear which footage the Russian Defence Ministry could be referring to, but it is clear from imagery confirmed from the actual attack site that their claim is not supported by evidence," Bellingcat concluded.
"It is clear that the Russian Defence Ministry's statement bears little relation to facts on the ground, as verified using open source information. As with previous Russian Defence Ministry denials related to its bombing campaign in Syria (including denials it bombed a mosque, hospital, and used cluster and incendiary bombs), these denials can be at best described as misleading, and at worst totally false," the experts summed up.
Read the full report here