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Sunday 26 January 2020

Israel behind fatal strike on Syrian air base, says Russia

Fourteen people were killed in the attack.

Russia said Israel was behind the latest air strike in Syria (Ariel Schalit/AP)
Russia said Israel was behind the latest air strike in Syria (Ariel Schalit/AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

The Israeli Air Force was behind the latest air strike in Syria, and launched eight missiles on a Syrian base, Russia’s defence ministry has said.

A Syrian military official also said Israel was behind the attack.

Russia said two Israeli fighter jets launched the attack on the T4 air base in central Syria from Lebanon’s air space in the early hours of Monday.

The ministry said Syria shot down five out of the eight missiles that targeted the base. It said the other three landed in the western part of the T4 base.

Syrian state TV meanwhile quoted the unnamed military official as saying Israeli F-15 warplanes had fired several missiles while flying over neighbouring Lebanon.

Fourteen people, including Iranians, were reported killed in the missile attack.

Rami Abdurrahman, who leads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said most of those killed were either Iranians or members of Iran-backed groups.

Earlier, President Donald Trump promised a “big price to pay” for the weekend’s suspected chemical attack.

The US launched several dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base last year after a chemical attack in the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun killed dozens of people. Israel has also struck inside Syria in recent years.

The suspected poison gas attack on Saturday on the besieged town of Douma came almost exactly a year after the US missile attack prompted by the Khan Sheikhoun deaths.

In response to the reports from Douma, Mr Trump on Sunday blamed Syrian government forces for what he called a “mindless CHEMICAL attack”. In a series of tweets, Mr Trump held Russia and Iran, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chief sponsors, responsible.

The Syrian government denied the allegations, calling them fabrications.

(PA Graphics)

First responders entering apartments in Douma late on Saturday said they found bodies collapsed on floors, some foaming at the mouth. The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defence rescue organisation said the victims appeared to have suffocated.

They did not identify the substance used, but the civil defence organisation, also known as the White Helmets, and the Syrian American Medical Society, a medical relief organisation, said survivors treated at clinics smelled strongly of chlorine.

Those reports could not be independently verified because of a government blockade around the town.

PA Media

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