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14 including Iranian fighters killed in Homs airbase attack; Syria, Russia blame Israel

Monday April 9, 2018 8:12 PM, Agencies

T4 Airbase Syria

Damascus (Syria): Syrian state media, citing a military source, said on Monday that Israeli F-15 war planes had conducted overnight missile attack on a major air base in central Syria. The strike killed 14 fighters, including allied Iranian forces, it said.

"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.

"The Israeli aggression on the T4 airport was carried out with F-15 planes that fired several missiles from above Lebanese land," state news agency SANA said.

Russian military sources also said that two Israeli F-15 war planes had carried out strikes on a Syrian air base on Monday. Interfax cited the Russian Defence Ministry as saying the Israeli war planes had carried out the strikes from Lebanese air space, and that Syrian air defence systems had shot down five of eight missiles fired.

Some Lebanese media outlets said residents living near the northeastern border with Syria heard jets in the sky in the early morning hours, also suggesting that the attack may have been carried out by Israel.

Asked about the Russian statement, an Israeli military spokesman said he had no immediate comment.

Syrian state TV had on Monday said that the United States was suspected of striking an air base hours after US President Donald Trump warned of a "big price to pay" as aid groups said dozens of people were killed by poison gas in Douma, a rebel-held town.

The US denied it was conducting air strikes in Syria. "At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting air strikes in Syria," a Pentagon spokesman said. "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."

Israel has previously targeted "Iranian targets" inside Syria. On February 10, an Israeli air raid targeted an ammunition warehouse at the T-4 military airport. Israel's military claimed earlier this year that Damascus had allowed Iran's Revolutionary Guard to operate the T-4 military site, according to the Times of Israel.

Monday's missile attacks took place after aid organisations estimated that more than 70 people were killed in a chemical attack on rebel-held Douma, outside Damascus, on Saturday.

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