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US President Donald Trump (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron watch an Italian flying squadron as they attend the Summit of the Heads of State and of Government of the G7, the group of most industrialized economies, plus the European Union, on May 26, 2017 in Taormina, Sicily. The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the US and Italy will be joined by representatives of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as teams from Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and Tunisia during the summit from May 26 to 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN

Who attacked Syria? US denies air strikes

Both the US and France denied the air strikes on Syrian military targets, which had reportedly killed Iranians.

Several US officials said on Sunday there was no truth to reports that the US military had launched air strikes against a Syrian government air base.

The US denial followed a report by Syrian state television of loud explosions heard near the T-4 airfield in the Syrian city of Homs in the early hours of Monday that was believed to have been targeted in a suspected US missile strike.

14 killed

Fourteen fighters, including allied Iranian forces, were killed in the early-morning strike on a Syrian government air base, said a monitoring group on Monday.

Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says most of the 14 killed were either Iranians or members of Iran-backed groups.

‘Israel did it’

Al-Manar TV station of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group, which is fighting in Syria alongside the government forces, described the attack as an “Israeli aggression.”

The Observatory says it wasn’t immediately clear who was behind the attack.

“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.

Syrian state media had earlier reported dead and wounded, without giving casualty figures.

Strong response

US President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron vowed Sunday a “strong, joint response” to a suspected chemical attack that left dozens dead in Syria’s rebel-held town of Douma, the White House said.

“Both leaders strongly condemned the horrific chemical weapons attacks in Syria and agreed that the {Al} Assad regime must be held accountable for its continued human rights abuses,” a statement read after Trump and Macron spoke by telephone.

“They agreed to exchange information on the nature of the attacks and coordinate a strong, joint response.”

Macron accused Damascus of “chemical attacks” against civilians, as international outrage mounts against the alleged use of the weapons.

The statement from the Elysee Palace said Macron “strongly condemned the chemical attacks on April 7 against the population of Douma”.


It added that the two leaders shared information “confirming” the use of chemical weapons and would coordinate their efforts at a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York on Monday.

 

Trump has warned there would be a “big price to pay” after Saturday’s attack, as rebels began evacuating Douma, the last sliver they held of their one-time stronghold Eastern Ghouta, under a deal with Syria’s regime.

“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.

Damascus and its allies have denounced the accusations.

Syria’s White Helmets, who act as first responders in rebel-held areas of Syria, said “poisonous chlorine gas” had been used late Saturday.

In a joint statement with the Syrian American Medical Society, the White Helmets said more than 500 cases were brought to medical centres “with symptoms indicative of exposure to a chemical agent”.

France, which has repeatedly said evidence of chemical use in Syria could prompt military action, responded by calling for an urgent UN Security Council meeting on Monday.

The request was also signed by eight other UN Security Council members including the US and Britain, while Russia asked for a separate Security Council meeting to discuss global threats to peace.

Source: Gulf News

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