Several killed & injured in ‘missile attack’ on airbase in Homs – Syrian state media
Several missiles struck Syria's Tiyas Military Airbase in the Homs governorate (also known as T-4 Airbase) on Sunday night, SANA reports, citing a military source. As a result of the strike, there were several “martyrs [killed] and wounded ,” the agency added, without specifying the number of casualties.
The attack has “probably” been carried out by the United States, the agency said, but US officials have firmly denied such allegations. While the US Defense Department is "aware" of reports of an alleged missile strike, it has dismissed the reports of any US involvement.
“At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting air strikes in Syria,” the Pentagon told Reuters in a statement. “However, we continue to closely watch the situation and support the ongoing diplomatic efforts to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable.”
France, also suspected of being involved in the attack, denied any responsibility for the military strike, AFP reported on Monday.
According to Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen broadcaster, the missiles were coming from the Mediterranean Sea, through Lebanese airspace. Meanwhile, Al Masdar News is reporting that “unknown jets” have entered Syrian airspace from Lebanon, and is speculating that the jets could be Israeli. In response, the Syrian Air Defense system at Mezzeh Air Base was activated, the report added.
Almost precisely a year ago, on April 7, 2017, the US carried out a strike against Syria’s Shayrat Airbase, launching a volley of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea. Back then, Washington justified the attack as a necessary response in the wake of reports of a deadly chemical attack in Idlib province, without waiting for any investigation into the incident.
The latest news come as Damascus faces fresh accusations of allegedly targeting civilians in a chlorine attack, which were put forward by the controversial White Helmets group, which is always to the fore in Western media coverage of the Syrian conflict.
Damascus, meanwhile, has denied the accusations, while the Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the latest reports as another example of a “continuous series of fake news about the use of chlorine and other chemical agents by the government forces.”
Talking to RT, Sreeram Chaulia, a professor at India’s Jindal School of International Affairs, noted that the Israeli Air Force has already been striking Syria in recent years, targeting the supply lines of Hezbollah. But this time, he said, it looks “like an impending US or French missile strike” carried out in response to the recent alleged chemical incident in Douma.
However, if the Israelis were behind the reported missile attack, it means that Tel Aviv has now been “dragged into the core of the [Syrian] conflict.” Israeli involvement in the Syrian war has deepened, and that is “a matter of grave concern,” Chaulia said. He also pointed out that the attack on the military compound in Homs took place after US President Donald Trump announced a withdrawal from Syria, adding that this sequence of events “puts the US back in.”
Amid escalating tensions, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US Central Command (CENTCOM), have allegedly been compiling lists of potential targets and attack options to present to Trump and his national security team, senior US military officials told Israel’s i24NEWS.
Israeli officials had, throughout Sunday, advocated striking targets in Syria, calling on Washington to retaliate against Damascus in response to the alleged Douma chemical attack. The charge was led by the Israeli Strategic Affairs and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who told the Army Radio on Sunday that he personally hopes that the US would take military action against the Syrian government. Among an array of politicians, Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog also called on the US to take “decisive military action” against Syria. The idea of Israel’s intervention in Syria was also supported by the Israeli Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, who urged his followers “to try and stop this massacre.”
Donald Trump’s fury, meanwhile, focused on Damascus and the Syrian president Bashar Assad, whom the US president called an “animal.” The US leader also lashed out against Iran and Russia for supporting Assad, saying there is a “big price” to pay for the latest chemical attack.
Trump has already held talks with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, after which both leaders decided to form a united front against Russia at the upcoming United Nations Security Council meetings, planned for Monday. Macron previously indicated that France might consider unilateral actions, including a military strike if chemical weapons were ever used in Syria again.
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