Damascus, BOTH RUSSIA AND Syria have accused Israel of carrying out deadly bombing raids on a military airbase in the country’s centre.
Syrian state media reported “several missiles” had hit the T-4 base in central Syria just before dawn this morning. Washington and Paris denied any involvement, and Damascus later blamed Israel.
“The Israeli attack on the T-4 airport was carried out with F-15 aircraft that fired several missiles from above Lebanese territory,” state news agency SANA reported, quoting a military source.
The Russian army also accused Israel, saying two Israeli F-15s had fired eight missiles at the base and that five were destroyed by air defence systems but three hit a western part of the facility.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the country’s conflict, said 14 fighters had been killed, including Syrian army officers and Iranian forces.
The attack came just hours ahead of an urgent UN meeting over the reported use of toxic gas on the town of Douma.
US President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone and vowed a “strong, joint response” to the suspected chemical attack that killed dozens, the White House said yesterday.
It added that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “must be held accountable for its continued human rights abuses”.
Trump had earlier taken to Twitter to issue a blistering warning to the Syrian regime and its allies.
“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria,” Trump wrote, lashing out at Russia’s Vladimir Putin, a key ally of the regime.
“President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay,” he said.
Damascus and its allies have denounced the accusations, with the Syrian regime brushing them off as an “unconvincing broken record”.
Russia’s foreign ministry called the latest reports of a chemical attack a provocation.
“A military intervention under far-fetched and fabricated pretexts in Syria, where there are Russian soldiers at the request of the legitimate Syrian government, is absolutely unacceptable and could have the most dire consequences,” it said.
Syrian state news agency SANA said early today that “several missiles” had hit the Tayfur airport, later adding that there were “dead and wounded” in the strike, without giving exact casualty numbers.
SANA first said the missile strike on the Tayfur base was a “suspected US attack,” but later withdrew all reference to America.
The Pentagon denied it was behind the Syria raid. A military spokeswoman for Israel, which has bombed Syrian government positions including those linked to chemical weapons, declined to comment today.
Regime forces, backed by Russia, have pounded Eastern Ghouta in a seven-week assault to dislodged rebel fighters, killing more than 1,700 civilians and prompting tens of thousands to flee.
Late Saturday, Syria’s White Helmets, who act as first responders in opposition-held areas of Syria, said “poisonous chlorine gas” was used on Douma – the last sliver of territory held by rebels.
In a joint statement with the Syrian American Medical Society, the White Helmets has said more than 500 cases were brought to medical centres “with symptoms indicative of exposure to a chemical agent”.
The reports prompted international anger, with UN chief Antonio Guterres saying any confirmed use of chemical weapons would be “abhorrent”.
The European Union said “the evidence points towards yet another chemical attack by the regime”, while opposition ally Turkey stated it had a “strong suspicion” Assad was to blame.
But key backer Iran came to Assad’s defence, saying the allegations were a Western conspiracy and echoing Russia’s warning against foreign military action.