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Syria, Russia blame Israel for deadly attack

Moscow, Monday

The Syrian government and its ally Russia have blamed Israel for a deadly attack on a Syrian military airport. Monday’s attack hit the Tiyas airbase, known as T4, near the city of Homs.

Observers say 14 people were killed. Israel, which has previously hit Syrian targets, has not commented. Syria initially blamed the US for the strike. The incident comes amid international alarm over an alleged chemical attack on a Syrian rebel-held town.

The US and France had threatened to respond. US President Donald Trump said there would be a “big price to pay” for the alleged chemical attack in Douma, in the Eastern Ghouta region, near the capital Damascus. He branded Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad an “animal”.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said accusations that Assad is behind the attack were a “provocation”. He said on Monday that Russian specialists had found no trace of a chemical attack on the Syrian rebel-held town of Douma.

“Our military specialists have visited this place… and they did not find any trace of chlorine or any other chemical substance used against civilians,” he said.

“I hope at least that the US military and those of the countries participating in the coalition led by the United States understand that,” Lavrov told a press conference.

At least 14 fighters, including Iranians, were killed in the strike on the T-4 airbase, according to the monitoring organisation the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Forces from regime allies Russia and Iran, as well as fighters from the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, are known to have a presence at the base, according to the observatory.

Washington and Paris denied any involvement. US President Donald Trump and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron have vowed a strong response to the suspected poison gas attack in the rebel outpost of Douma.

Meanwhile, Ahmet Uzumcu, head the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, expressed “grave concern” about the alleged attack. The OPCW is currently gathering information about the possible use of chemical weapons. -BBC/AFP

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