Airbase hit by US missiles ‘heavily involved’ in anti-ISIS campaign – relative of strike victim
The US bombardment of the Syrian airbase only serves to encourage Islamic State terrorists as the base was actively involved in the anti-terrorist campaign, including in Palmyra and Raqqa, a man whose relative was killed in the airstrike told RT.
RT spoke to Qusai Nasr from Homs, who lost a relative when the US attacked the Shayrat airfield with dozens of Tomahawk missiles early Friday.
“All of the officers [stationed] there have actually taken part in the Syrian campaign against ISIS [Islamic State],” Nasr said, referring to the base, which is located near Homs.
According to Nasr, 15 people were killed in the airstrike although it has not led to an extensive damage to the airfield. The airstrike, however, resulted in the death of five officers and soldiers who were at the base, he said.
The pretext for the attack, that the Syrian government and the air force stationed at the base in particular, were allegedly behind the chemical incident in rebel-held Idlib province on Tuesday, is hard to believe, Nasr argues.
“There is no evidence that the chemical attack was led by [Syrian aircraft] from this spot,” Nasr said, adding that neither the US nor rebels “show evidence of an aerial strike, the aerial deployment of the chemical weapon.”
“If it was the case thousands of people might have been killed in a town that has a lot of people inside but the number that they said, and I think, they are exaggerating, are very, very little,” he added.
While the strike has dealt little damage to the key airbase infrastructure, it will embolden terrorists, as was the case when the US-led coalition “mistakenly” launched an hour-long raid on the Syrian army positions in Deir ez-Zor in September, killing up to some 100 soldiers and injuring 100 more.
“On the same day of [the Deir ez-Zor] attack, ISIS launched a massive attack on the Syrian army and they gained ground. Today also after the attack on Shayrat Airbase, there was also an attack on the Syrian post in eastern Homs [province] that the Syria army managed to repel,” Nasr said.
Earlier, it was reported that the Syrian forces struggled to quash the terrorist offensive in the area due to the lack of air support from the airbase.
Homs Governor Talal Barazi told RT on Friday that Islamic State attempted to use the airstrike to gain control of strategic oil areas near Palmyra, but the Syrian army thwarted the move.
Judging by the developments on the ground, Nasr said that the US attack “actually helps the terrorists, and helps ISIL and Al-Nusra [Front militants].”
“ISIL and Al-Nusra are actually put on the terrorism list by the US. It is really strange that the United States would attack an airbase that is heavily involved in a campaign against ISIL.”
Speaking to RT earlier on Friday, Homs Governor Barazi said that 14 people were killed in the strike, including nine civilians. At least thirteen women and children, living in the nearby villages, have been injured in the attack, he said.
The strike has caused mixed reaction within international community. While Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey and Syrian rebels and a number of western countries, including the UK, France and Germany, have expressed support for Donald Trump’s unilateral decision to attack Syria, others, including Russia, Iran and Bolivia have decried the strike as unwarranted aggression, bearing resemblance to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Russia’s President Putin has denounced the strike as an act of “aggression against a sovereign nation” while Russian deputy acting envoy to the UN, Vladimir Safronkov, said it had “raised the spirits of terrorists,” accusing Washington of unwillingness to conduct a “real investigation” in the suspected chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun.