Sunday, 23 September, 2018

Tensions spiral in Syria as Israel blamed for deadly strike

Smoke rises from one of the buildings in the city of Homs Syria Image The city of Homs in Syria which is near the airbase. File pic
Ebony Burgess | 10 April, 2018, 20:23

Worldwide condemnation grew over a suspected poison gas attack in a rebel-held town near Damascus said to have been carried out by the Syrian government, while Syria and its main ally, Russia, blamed Israel for airstrikes on a Syrian air base that reportedly killed 14 people, including four Iranians.

The United States has dismissed Syrian claims accusing it of attacking a Homs air base.

Russian Federation 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.

According to the Syrian media, the country's air defenses had come face to face with a missile attack during which almost 8 missiles were shot down. When asked by interviewers what Israel's interest in such an attack was, Ben Eliyahu said that it was part of the ongoing efforts to prevent Iran from establishing a base in Syria.

Syrian state TV quoted an unnamed military official as saying that Israeli F-15 warplanes fired several missiles at T4.

The US Department of State, in a statement, claimed to be following the reports on Saturday's attack and added that Russian Federation "ultimately bears responsibility" for the attacks and its consequences.

The airstrikes killed 14 people, including fighters from Iran, according to a conflict monitoring group, The New York Times reported.

The attack took place hours after US President Donald Trump warned of a "big price to pay" following the reports of a poison gas attack on the rebel-held town of Douma which killed dozens of people, including children.

The Syrian state denied government forces had launched any chemical attack.

Opposition activists said 40 people died in Saturday night's chemical attack in the town of Douma, the last remaining rebel bastion in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, blaming Assad's forces.

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The agency said it was likely "an American aggression" but USA officials say the United States had not launched airstrikes on Syria.

"Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria", Mr. Trump tweeted.

It was not initially clear who carried out the attack after both the US and France denied that they were responsible for the attack. He tweeted on Sunday there would be a "big price to pay" and said Russian Federation, its president, Vladimir Putin, and Iran were responsible for enabling "Animal Assad".

Israeli opposition lawmaker Yair Lapid told Army Radio: "Israel will not accept an Iranian military presence in Syria and will not accept Iran's creeping entrenchment in Syria and this has costs". Although the agency said it was likely "an American aggression", US officials said the United States had not launched any airstrikes on Syria.

Israel did not comment on Monday's missile strike.

Ultimately, however, the Syrian government agreed to destroy its stockpiles of the weapon, and the US did not respond with strikes.

What kind of gas was used in the latest attack in Syria?

The Syrian government denied staging Saturday's suspected poison gas assault on Douma.

The UN Security Council has called an emergency meeting for Monday to discuss the incident amid worldwide outrage over the alleged used of poison gas.

The fast-paced developments heightened tensions between the USA and Russian Federation, which has in the past warned against any US military action against President Bashar Assad's government.

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