Russia has pointed the finger at Israel over a deadly missile strike on a Syrian airbase Sunday after Syrian state media initially blamed the United States for the attack that killed 14 people, and the U.S. has reportedly confirmed that Israel gave prior warning of its plan to attack.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received international condemnation after a suspected chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Ghouta that is believed to have killed over 40 people. President Donald Trump warned Assad there would be a “big price to pay” over the suspect attack, tweeting: “Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad.”
As initial reports of a missile strike on the T4 airbase—near the city of Homs—were shown on Syrian state media Sunday, viewers were told it was likely to be a retaliatory attack from the U.S., with a Syrian news flash stating: “An aggression was perpetrated on T-4 air base in several strikes that is most likely to be an American attack.”
The Pentagon quickly denied any involvement, saying in a statement: “At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting airstrikes in Syria. 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.”
France—whose president, Emmanuel Macron, also vowed retaliation for the suspected chemical attack—also denied involvement.
On Monday morning, both Syria and Russia said Israel carried out the attack, with the Russian ministry of defense claiming two Israeli F-15 fighters targeted the airbase by firing eight guided missiles, with five of them shot down before they hit the airfield, Russia Today reported.
Israel has yet to comment on the airstrike or the accusations, but has a track record of launching independent strikes on Syria. Raids were launched in February after Israel said it had intercepted an Iranian drone crossing the Syria-Israel border and an Israeli F-16 fighter jet was shot down by Syrian forces during the attack.
The U.S. hit the T4 base with a cruise missile in April 2017 after another suspected use of chemical weapons by Assad, with Trump saying at the time that the strikes were a “targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched."
According to the White House, Trump and Macron “agreed to exchange information on the nature of the attacks and coordinate a strong, joint response” following the reports of Sunday’s chemical attack.