Sunday 24 June 2018

Syrian state media says Israel struck air base 'killing 14'

  • Syrian media claims there were casualties in a missile attack at air base
  • The U.S. Pentagon said it was not conducting air strikes in Syria "at this time"
  • Several dead and wounded in the strike
A medical worker gives a child oxygen at a makeshift medical clinic in Douma Photo: AP
A medical worker gives a child oxygen at a makeshift medical clinic in Douma Photo: AP
This image made from video released by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a toddler given oxygen through respirators following an alleged poison gas attack in the opposition-held town of Douma, in eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, Syria, Sunday, April 8, 2018. The Civil Defense said patients were having difficulty breathing and burning in their eyes. Syrian opposition activists and rescuers said Sunday that a poison gas attack on a rebel-held town near the capital. The Syrian government denied the allegations, which could not be independently verified. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)
A girl looks on following alleged chemical weapons attack, in what is said to be Douma, Syria in this still image from video obtained by Reuters on April 8, 2018. White Helmets/Reuters
A child rests in the medical clinic after receiving treatment for the chemical attack Photo: Getty
A child cries as they have their face wiped following alleged chemical weapons attack, in what is said to be Douma, Syria in this still image from video obtained by Reuters on April 8, 2018. White Helmets/Reuters TV via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Syria accused Israel on Monday of carrying out overnight missile strikes on a major airfield, after earlier saying it suspected the United States of being behind the attack.

Russia, the Damascus government's key ally, also said two Israeli F-15 war planes carried out the strikes near Homs in central Syria. An Israeli military spokesman said he had no immediate comment.

It's believed at least 14 people were killed in the attack.

Russia's Defence Ministry said Israel conducted the strikes from Lebanese air space, and Syrian air defence systems shot down five out of eight missiles, the Interfax news agency reported.

This image made from video released by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a toddler given oxygen through respirators following an alleged poison gas attack in the opposition-held town of Douma, in eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, Syria, Sunday, April 8, 2018. The Civil Defense said patients were having difficulty breathing and burning in their eyes. Syrian opposition activists and rescuers said Sunday that a poison gas attack on a rebel-held town near the capital. The Syrian government denied the allegations, which could not be independently verified. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)
This image made from video released by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a toddler given oxygen through respirators following an alleged poison gas attack in the opposition-held town of Douma, in eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, Syria, Sunday, April 8, 2018. The Civil Defense said patients were having difficulty breathing and burning in their eyes. Syrian opposition activists and rescuers said Sunday that a poison gas attack on a rebel-held town near the capital. The Syrian government denied the allegations, which could not be independently verified. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)

"The Israeli aggression on the T4 airfield was carried out with F-15 planes," the Syrian state agency SANA said, citing a military source.

Washington has denied launching any air strikes against the country. France was not involved in the strikes, a defence ministry official said.

A girl looks on following alleged chemical weapons attack, in what is said to be Douma, Syria in this still image from video obtained by Reuters on April 8, 2018. White Helmets/Reuters
A girl looks on following alleged chemical weapons attack, in what is said to be Douma, Syria in this still image from video obtained by Reuters on April 8, 2018. White Helmets/Reuters

Israel has previously accused Damascus of allowing Iran to set up a complex at the base to supply arms to its ally, Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah.

Monday's statements were unusual for Russia, which has generally been reticent about Israeli strikes in Syria even as it tries to shore up President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

A child cries as they have their face wiped following alleged chemical weapons attack, in what is said to be Douma, Syria in this still image from video obtained by Reuters on April 8, 2018. White Helmets/Reuters TV via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A child cries as they have their face wiped following alleged chemical weapons attack, in what is said to be Douma, Syria in this still image from video obtained by Reuters on April 8, 2018. White Helmets/Reuters TV via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Russia and Israel set up a hotline in 2015 to prevent accidental clashes between their forces in Syria, and diplomatic sources on both sides say Moscow is willing to turn a blind eye to Israeli actions as long as they do not destabilise Damascus.

Israel rarely acknowledges strikes in Syria but has said that, as a matter of policy, they aim to thwart the entrenchment of Iranian forces or arms transfers to Hezbollah.

Germany on Monday condemned the use of chemical weapons in Douma, a rebel-held town in Syria's eastern Ghouta, and said the circumstances pointed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad being responsible for the attack.

"The government condemns this new use of poison gas in the strongest terms," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference. "The regime's actions are abhorrent."

"Those responsible for the use of poison gas ... must be held to account," he added. "With this use of poison gas, the circumstances point to Assad regime's responsibility."

U.S. President Donald Trump said 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 a besieged rebel town.

The United States launched a cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base a year ago, after dozens of civilians died in a gas attack in an opposition town in northwest Syria.

The Syrian state has denied that government forces launched any chemical attack. Russia, Assad's most powerful ally, has called the reports fake.

Reuters

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