Four Iranian fighters killed in air strike on Syrian air base

10 April, 2018, 20:14 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP

Seven Iranian military personnel were killed in Sunday's air strike on a Syrian air base, Tasnim news agency said, nearly double the number originally reported.

The strike on the Tayfur air base in the central province of Homs, came as worldwide outrage mounts over an attack on Saturday in the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta.

"Three missiles reached the western part of the aerodrome, five were destroyed by the Syrian Air Defense Forces", the ministry said in a statement.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Monday that Moscow has warned the United States of "grave repercussions" if it carries out an attack against Syrian government forces over reports of a deadly chemical weapons attack.

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

"It seems the US government is looking for an excuse for military intervention", Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said has he arrived in Brazil early on Tuesday, according to state media.

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"At least 14 fighters were killed in the strike on the T-4 airport, among them Iranian forces", said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor. More than 1,000 Iranians have been killed in Syria, including senior members of the Guards.

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to Trump by telephone and the two agreed that they would work together to establish clear responsibility for what Macron's office said they had agreed was a confirmed chemical attack.

The missile attack came shortly after US President Donald Trump issued a stark warning over an apparent "chemical" attack in Douma, the last rebel-controlled town in an eastern suburb of Damascus.

Israel said in February it had intercepted an Iranian drone launched from Syria, and carried out air strikes against air defences and Iranian targets in the country.

The US Pentagon said it was not conducting air strikes in Syria "at this time", formally denying the Syrian state television report.

The Syrian opposition blamed the suspected chemical attack on government forces, who launched an air and ground assault on Douma, the last rebel-held town in the eastern Ghouta district, on Friday. Earlier, the rebels of the Islam Army in the area backed down on an agreement they had concluded with the Syrian government and Russian Federation on their evacuation from Douma and refused to release kidnapped people from its prisons.

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One video shared by activists showed bodies of about a dozen children, women and men, some with foam at the mouth. However gaining access to samples on the ground would be hard.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters: "While the United Nations is not in a position to verify these reports, the secretary-general notes that any use of chemical weapons if confirmed, is abhorrent, and requires a thorough investigation". Although the agency said it was likely "an American aggression", US officials said the United States had not launched any airstrikes on Syria.

The European Union also laid the blame squarely on Assad's government.

The U.N. Security Council will meet twice on Monday following rival requests by Russian Federation and the United States.

The EU also said evidence pointed to the use of chemical weapons by Assad's forces.

United Nations war crimes investigators had previously documented 33 chemical attacks in Syria, attributing 27 to the Assad regime, which has repeatedly denied using the weapons.

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