On December 1, 2016, the British government complained that Russia was preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid to rebel-held eastern Aleppo, which at that time was under siege by Russia’s allies aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iran. Two days later, Major General Igor Konashenkov, official spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defense, responded by claiming that the UK had never sent any aid to Aleppo:
“Great Britian has not sent a gram of flour, not one single tablet and not one blanket to help the civilian population throughout all the years of the war in Syria.”
“If the British government actually want to send aids to civilians in the east of Aleppo, all the conditions for this are there. Tell me, where is it held up?”
However, the United Kingdom is the second largest national contributor of humanitarian aid to Syria, second only to the United States. The British Department for International Development (DfID) states that, as of November, 2016, the UK had spent £665 million (nearly $820 million) on aid bound for distribution inside Syria, with £758 million spent on aid in neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.
A DfID source told Polygraph.info that UK-funded aid, including food, drinking water, shelters and medicine had indeed reached Aleppo during the war, distrubuted by partners such as the Red Cross, the UN and several non-governmental organizations.
Beyond DfID, Britain’s Conflict Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), overseen by the National Security Council, has provided training and equipment to Syrian Civil Defense volunteers, known as the White Helmets,” who operate across rebel-held areas of Syria providing emergency services in the aftermath of attacks.
Two weeks after Konashenkov’s remarks, Britain's Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, announced that the UK would provide further aid to help civilians following the fall of Aleppo to Assad-allied forces, while also claiming that the UK was “already providing basic life-saving support to thousands of civilians entering west Aleppo city from the east, through UN and NGO partner agencies working in and around Aleppo.”
Konashenkov picked an odd moment to make his claim. At the time he was speaking, UN-organized aid convoys to Aleppo had been halted for several months after a convoy returning from the city was subjected to a prolonged, devastating air assault in September.
That attack, as Polygraph.info has already reported, was either directly conducted by the Russian Air Force or by the Syrian regime, operating in coordination with Russian air assets.
Furthermore, on November 24 Jan Egeland, chairman of the UN Task Force on Humanitarian Access in Syria, told Reuters that UN aid deliveries to east Aleppo were being held up not by opposition forces, with whom agreements had already been reached, but Russia and the Assad regime, which had yet to provide written approval or support.
So for Konashenkov to claim that not only had the UK provided no aid for Aleppo, but that there was nothing preventing aid reaching the east of the city, besieged and bombed daily by Russia and its allies, is simply false.