Syria, Russia say Israeli jets hit airbase
Posted on 04/25/20 7:46 PM
Children and adults are being treated for exposure to what appears to be a chemical agent in Douma. Medical workers treat toddlers after an alleged poison gas attack in the Syrian town of Douma.
The Russian and Syrian military say Israeli war planes carried out missile strikes on a Syrian air base hours after US President Donald Trump warned of a “big price to pay” following reports of a poison gas attack on a rebel-held town.
Syrian state TV initially said the US was suspected of carrying out a missile attack on the T-4 airfield near Homs, after harsh words by Trump over the reported chemical attack on Saturday in the town of Douma which killed dozens of people.
The US denied attacking the Syrian base.
The Russian military, whose forces are supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said two Israeli F-15 war planes had carried out the strikes on the Syrian T-4 air base early on Monday.
Interfax cited the Russian Defence Ministry saying Israeli war planes had carried out the strikes from Lebanese air space, and that Syrian air defence systems had shot down five of eight missiles fired.
Israel had no immediate comment to the Syrian and Russian military charges.
Israel has struck Syrian army locations many times in the course of the conflict, hitting convoys and bases of Iranian-backed militias that fight alongside Assad’s forces.
Israel has accused Damascus of allowing Iran to set up a complex at the T-4 base to supply arms to its ally, Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hezbollah.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitor, said at least 14 people were killed including fighters of various nationalities, a reference to Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia members, mostly from Iraq, Lebanon and Iran fighting alongside the Syrian army.
As international officials worked to try to confirm the chemical attack, Trump took the rare step of directly criticising Russian President Vladimir Putin in connection with the incident.
Trump said on Twitter on Sunday there would be a “big price to pay” after medical aid groups reported dozens of civilians, including many children and women, were killed by poison gas in the besieged rebel-held town.
“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay,” Trump wrote.
The Syrian government denied its forces had launched any chemical assault, while Russia, Assad’s most powerful ally, called the reports fake and warned against military action on the basis of “invented and fabricated excuses”.
The Syrian government launched an air and ground assault on Douma, the last rebel-held town in the eastern Ghouta district, on Friday.
The medical relief organisation Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and the civil defence service, which operates in rebel-held areas, said in a joint statement 49 people had been killed in the suspected gas attack.
One video shared by activists showed bodies of about a dozen children, women and men, some with foam at the mouth.
US. government sources said Washington’s assessment of the Saturday attack was that chemical weapons were used. The European Union also said evidence pointed to the use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces.
The UN Security Council will meet twice on Monday following rival requests by Russia and the US.