Russia blamed Israel for a missile attack on a major air base in central Syria on Monday that reportedly killed 14 people, including Iranians. The strikes came as international condemnation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continues to grow over a suspected poison gas attack over the weekend.
The chemical weapons attack on the town of Douma came almost exactly one year after the United States (U.S.) launched tomahawk missiles in response to the previous use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun.
The United Nations (U.N.) Security Council planned to hold an emergency meeting Monday to discuss the chemical attack, which opposition activists said claimed the lives of 40 people.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said 2 Israeli aircraft fired 8 missiles at the T4 air base in Homs province, 5 of which the Syrian government claims to have shot down. The other 3 landed in the western part of the base.
Syrian state TV quoted an unnamed military official as saying that the attackers were Israeli F-15 warplanes, but they gave no further details.
Israel’s foreign ministry had no comment when asked about reports. However, if true, it would not be the first Israeli attack on Syrian targets. The most recent was against the same T4 base in February after an Iranian drone took off from the the target and violated Israeli airspace.
Israel has launched more than 100 attacks against Syrian targets since 2012.
Syria’s state news agency SANA first claimed the attack was “an American aggression.” However, Pentagon spokesman Christopher Sherwood quickly denied the U.S. was involved. SANA has since dropped the accusation and pivoted to blaming Israel.
Last week, the Trump Administration said the U.S. military mission in Syria “is coming to a rapid end.”
“We been in the Middle East for decades and have little to show for it,” U.S. President Donald Trump said. “It’s time to come back home.”
President Trump blamed Russia and Iran for the Syrian government’s actions, but also pointed out that the situation represents a failure of the Obama Administration. Former President Barack Obama drew a “Red Line” in the sand over chemical weapons, which President Assad crossed.
“If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!” President Trump tweeted.
If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2018
Mr. Obama did nothing. Then-Secretary of State John Kerry supposedly negotiated a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Assad allegedly agreed to give up his chemical weapons stockpile under the supervision of the Russians.
Obviously that effort was a failure.