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Four Iranians killed in airstrike on Syria airbase; Tehran, Moscow blame Israel

Participants of the Conference on International Security gather together near a big screen showing a Russian warplane unloading its weapons over target in Syria. (AP)

Tehran declared on Monday that four of its military advisers have been killed in “Israel’s overnight airstrikes on T4 airbase in the Syrian province of Homs.”

According to a statement carried by Fars News, two Israeli fighter jets attacked the Syrian army’s T4 military base in Homs province from the Lebanese airspace on Sunday night, killing and wounding over a dozen personnel, including 4 Iranian military advisers.

The Iranian casualties have been identified as Seyed Ammar Moussavi, Medi Lotfi Niyasar, Akbar Zawwar Jannati, Mehdi Dehqan Yazdeli. The Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday that Israeli F-15 fighter jets targeted Syria’s airbase.

The warplanes fired eight guided missiles, but Syrian air defense units shot down five before they could hit the airfield. Three of the missiles reached the Western part of the airfield. “The Israeli fighters did not enter Syrian airspace and launched the strikes while flying over Lebanon,” the agency said.

F-15 war planes

Syrian state media, citing a military source, said on Monday that Israeli F-15 war planes had conducted the overnight missile attack on a major air base in central Syria.

“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 Sunday.

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

Syrian state TV said on Monday 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."

Iranians killed

The strike killed 14 fighters, including allied Iranian forces, a monitoring group said on Monday. "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.

Map of the Tayfour airbase (also known as Althias, Tiyas or T-4)

Douma chemical attack

That followed a warning by US President Donald Trump on Sunday that there would be a "big price to pay" after medical aid groups reported dozens of people were killed by poison gas in Douma, a besieged rebel-held town in Syria.

Medical aid groups reported dozens of people were killed by poison gas in Douma, a besieged rebel-held town in Syria. (White Helmets)

"Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria," Trump wrote on Twitter, lashing out at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russia's Vladimir Putin, a key ally of the regime.

"President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay," he said. His comments came exactly a year and a day after the US fired cruise missiles at a Syrian air base in retaliation for a deadly sarin gas attack in 2017.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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Last Update: Monday, 9 April 2018 KSA 18:12 - GMT 15:12
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