ALSO READTrump says 'Animal Assad' has 'big price to pay' for Syria chemical attack Dozens reported killed in suspected Syria gas attack; Damascus denies Moscow junks claim that Syria used chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta US must not act on fabricated pretexts in Syria: Moscow Russia blocks probe on Syria's chemical weapons by casting UN veto
An early-morning strike on a Syrian government air base in the country's centre killed 14 fighters, including Iranian forces allied to the regime, a monitoring group said today.
"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 in the strike, without giving casualty figures.
The T-4 base lies in Syria's central Homs province and is also known as the Tiyas airport.
Forces from regime allies Russia and Iran, as well as fighters from the Tehran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah militia, are known to have a presence there, said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.
Russia, Syria blame Israel
According to a statement by the Russian military, "Two Israeli F-15 warplanes carried out the strikes from Lebanese airspace, and that Syrian air defence systems shot down five of eight missiles fired in Homs."
Israel did not comment immediately in regards to the statement by Russia, The Guardian reported.
According to Syrian State TV, the T-4 airbase in Homs in western Syria was battered by "several missiles" in an "attack likely done by the US" early on Monday.
According to a military source, the missile attack caused an "unspecified number of deaths and injuries" respectively, reported Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA)
The Pentagon denied any role in the military airbase attack in Homs and issued a statement, "At this time, the Department of Defence 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."
Russia says 'no trace of chemical attack'
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russian specialists had found no trace of a chemical attack on the Syrian rebel-held town of Douma, after allegations from the international community.
"Our military specialists have visited this place... and they did not find any trace of chlorine or any other chemical substance used against civilians," he said.
He also said that a strike on a Syrian airbase, that Damascus and Moscow have blamed on Israel, was a "very dangerous development".
"I hope at least that the US military and those of the countries participating in the coalition led by the United States understand that," Lavrov told a press conference.
US President Donald Trump and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron have vowed a strong response to the suspected poison gas attack, which left dozens dead, and the UN Security Council was expected to discuss the crisis later today.
"We resolutely oppose the use of chemical weapons by any country, any organisation, any person, for any reason, under any circumstances," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a regular press briefing.
"China supports conducting a comprehensive, objective and just investigation into the relevant incident, whose results can stand the tests of history and an examination of the facts, and will bring the responsible party to justice under the law," he said.
Geng said the UN Security Council and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons should continue their role as the "main channel" for dealing with the problem.
Global watchdog looking for chemical weapons' trace
The global watchdog working to eradicate chemical weapons is investigating reports of a suspected poison gas attack on the Syrian rebel-held town of Douma, its head said on Monday.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons "made a preliminary analysis of the reports of the alleged use of chemical weapons immediately after they were issued," said director general Ahmet Uzumcu.
A fact-finding team was now gathering more information "to establish whether chemical weapons were used," he added in a statement, expressing his "grave concern" about the situation.
Experts were digging up information "from all available sources" and their findings would be reported to the 192 nations which have signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, Uzumcu vowed.
Syria finally joined the convention in 2013, admitting under heavy US-Russian pressure to having a toxic arms stockpile, and staving off threatened US air strikes. The OPCW has destroyed 100 per cent of all the country's declared toxic stockpiles, but Uzumcu has repeatedly said there were gaps in the declaration by the Syrian regime.
The convention bans the use, development, production and stockpiling of all chemical weapons.
But amid "persistent allegations" of their use in Syria, the OPCW set up its own independent fact-finding mission in 2014. It has investigated more than 70 cases of alleged toxic gas attacks in Syria since 2014.
In 2015 the OPCW joined with the UN to form a joint investigative panel, known as the JIM, tasked with identifying those behind the chemical attacks in Syria.
In October, the panel released a damning report that found the Syrian air force had dropped sarin on the rebel-held village of Khan Sheikhun in April 2017, killing scores of people.
Yet another recent OPCW report concluded that sarin was used in another incident on March 30 in the village of Latamneh.
The Syrian regime has also been blamed for using chlorine gas on three villages in 2014 and 2015. The Islamic State jihadist group was found to have unleashed mustard gas.
Russia used its veto power twice in November to block the renewal of the panel, maintaining it was biased and unprofessional.
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