Israeli warplanes hit Syrian air base: Russia

Two Israeli F-15 warplanes carried out missile strikes on Syria’s T-4 military airfield from Lebanese air space early on Monday, Interfax news agency reported citing Russian Defence Ministry.

Syrian air defence systems shot down five of eight missiles fired before they hit the airfield. Three missiles hit the western part of the airfield leaving several Syrian soldiers dead or injured.

Al Arabiya TV said at least 14 servicemen, including Iranian advisers, were killed in the attack on the air base in Homs province from 3.25am to 3.53 am.

Asked about the Russian statement, an Israeli military spokesman said he had no immediate comment. Israeli Air Force had bombed the same airbase in the Homs province back in February.

Russian defence and foreign ministries have requested Israel to provide explanation for its airstrikes on the Syrian military facility.

The missile attacks came hours after Moscow warned of possible foreign military intervention in Syria to disrupt evacuation  of people from the last rebel-held bastion Douma in Eastern Ghouta.

Soon after the missile attacks, Syrian television said civilians in the area heard loud explosions.  But it was not clear who carried out the raid.

According to Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen broadcaster, the missiles were coming from the Mediterranean Sea through Lebanese airspace, indicating the attack might have been carried out by Israel.

Israeli military declined to comment on the incident while the US denied carrying out the attacks.

Throughout Sunday, Israeli officials advocated striking targets in Syria and called on Washington to retaliate against the alleged chemical attack in Douma.

The missile attacks came hours after US President Donald Trump vowed there would be a “big price to pay” for the ‘chemical attack’ and called Syrian President Bashar Assad an “animal.”

In a telephonic conversation on Sunday, Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to coordinate “a strong, joint response.”

The missile attacks took place ahead of a Russia-initiated UN Security Council meeting on Monday to discuss threats to international peace and another meeting of nine countries on alleged chemical attack in Douma.

Chemical attacks reports ‘fake’

Moscow on Sunday rejected reports citing militants and NGOs that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons during weekend raids in  Douma killing dozens. It said such allegations were aimed at disrupting the evacuation of Jaish al-Islam militants from Douma.

The alleged chemical attack in Douma on Saturday is one of the fake news spread through the NGO White Helmets and other ‘humanitarian organisations’ based in the UK and US. Their aim is to set a narrative to justify possible military intervention in Syria from abroad, Russia’s foreign ministry said.

Syria said it is foolish to think that their army needs chemical weapons to force out divided militants from their last bastion.

But Washington on Sunday rushed to blame Moscow over chemical attacks.