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White House Knew Syrian Aid Convoy Would Be Hit By Air Strikes, Did Nothing

REUTERS/Sultan Kitaz

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter

The Obama administration’s top man in Syria was warned of one of the most devastating attacks on a premier humanitarian organization a full two days before it happened, but the administration failed to do anything about it.

Michael Ratney, the U.S. special envoy to Syria, and envoys from the Netherlands, U.K., and Canada were warned that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad was planning to conduct an air strike on several outposts belonging to the Syrian Civil Defense, reported The Daily Beast’s Michael Weiss Monday. Commonly known as the White Helmets, the Syrian Civil Defense is a rescue organization famous for pulling Syrian civilians from rubble created by Assad and his Russian allies.

“We just received a message from the spotters, just an hour ago, they detected messages from the regime radio that they will attack [Syrian Civil Defense] centers in northern Aleppo,” a source who was present when the meeting where the envoys were informed of the impending attacks told Weiss, quoting White Helmets head Raed al-Saleh. “First with surface-to-surface missiles and, if they miss, they will use spies on the group to adjust coordinates and come back.”

Saleh discovered the plot upon receiving intercepted radio chatter between Assad’s military officers while they were planning the strike on several White Helmets staging areas in Aleppo. Two days later, three out of four of the areas staging areas were obliterated, including two ambulance depots and a fire station.

Ratney did not comment to The Daily Beast on the warning or whether the administration did anything to help prevent the attack, however, a Daily Beast source present at the meeting said it was “very fucking bizarre. They were basically saying ‘yes, this is awful, but we’re not going to do anything about it.” A second source told Weiss that the intelligence seemed to have little effect on the envoys.

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