Warning: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called a bomb raid on Syria’s T-4 airbase that killed 14 fighters a very dangerous development. Picture: REUTERS
Warning: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called a bomb raid on Syria’s T-4 airbase that killed 14 fighters a very dangerous development. Picture: REUTERS

Damascus — Syria and Russia accused Israel on Monday of carrying out a bombing raid on a Syrian military airport, as calls mounted for international action over an alleged chemical attack on a rebel-held town.

Britain was the latest country to urge a "strong" response to accusations that dozens of people were killed by poison gas in Douma, a battered opposition-held town near the capital. The escalating pressure came as Damascus and Moscow blamed Israel for an early morning missile strike on Syria’s T-4 airbase.

Syrian state news agency Sana said Israeli F-15 aircraft fired several missiles at the base from Lebanese territory.

Russia’s army said a pair of Israeli F-15s fired eight missiles at the base. Five were destroyed by air defence systems but three hit a western part of the facility, it said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the raid a "very dangerous development". The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 14 fighters were killed, including Syrian army officers and Iranian forces.

Forces of regime backers Russia and Iran, as well as fighters of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, were known to have a presence at T-4, said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

Washington and Paris denied carrying out Monday’s raid.

Israel has previously targeted Iranian units in Syria, but declined to comment on the latest strike.

US forces a year ago fired a volley of cruise missiles at the government’s Shayrat air base in retaliation for another suspected chemical attack in April 2017.

Syria has often been accused of using toxic weapons, including sarin gas, in the country’s seven-year war, which has killed more than 350,000 people. Pressure is mounting over the latest accusations that it killed dozens of people on Saturday with a toxic gas attack on Douma, the last rebel-held town in the Eastern Ghouta suburb of the capital. Rescuers and medics said at least 48 people died after showing symptoms consistent with exposure to "poisonous chlorine gas", including foaming at the mouth and difficulty breathing.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called on Monday for a "strong and robust international response" to the attack, after similar calls by Paris and Washington.

US President Donald Trump warned there would be a "big price to pay" for the attack and vowed with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to react strongly. The French presidency said the two leaders shared information "confirming" the use of chemical weapons and would co-ordinate their efforts at a UN Security Council meeting later on Monday.

The UN’s chemical weapons watchdog said it had "made a preliminary analysis of the reports of the alleged use of chemical weapons immediately after they were issued".

AFP

Please sign in or register to comment.