United States refutes reports of attack on Syrian airbase

Children receiving oxygen through respirators following an alleged poison gas attack in the rebel-held town of Douma on Saturday

Children receiving oxygen through respirators following an alleged poison gas attack in the rebel-held town of Douma on Saturday

Syrian air defences shot down eight missiles after a major air base in central Syria was struck in the early hours of Monday, Syrian state television reported.

President Donald Trump previously ordered missile strikes after a Syrian chemical attack last April. It said the missiles were launched at the T4 air base, in central Homs Governorate.

According to the Syrian media, the country's air defenses had come face to face with a missile attack during which almost 8 missiles were shot down.

One month ago, after reports of gas attacks against rebels, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said "it would be very unwise for them to use weaponized gas".

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.

At least 42 people were killed in an air strike on rebel-held Douma late Saturday and local aid groups said more than 500 cases were brought to medical centers "with symptoms indicative of exposure to a chemical agent".

The Syrian Foreign Ministry responded to the rebels' claims of chemical weapons use by the Syrian army in Douma district near Damascus as "premeditated pretexts", according to state news agency SANA. The Pentagon later issued a statement saying, "At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting airstrikes in Syria".

The suspected poison gas attack on Saturday on the besieged town of Douma came nearly exactly a year after the USA missile attack prompted by the Khan Sheikhoun deaths.

Syria's state news agency SANA initially said the attack on the T4 air base was likely "an American aggression", but the Pentagon denied involvement, and the agency then dropped the accusation, blaming Israel instead.

As worldwide officials worked to try to confirm Saturday's chemical attack on Douma, a Syria medical relief group said at least 60 people had been killed there and more than 1,000 injured in several sites.

Turkey attacked Afrin in March to drive out the Kurdish militia, known as the YPG, which forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, America's main partner in Syria.

Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron "agreed to exchange information on the nature of the attacks and coordinate a strong, joint response", the White House said in statement on their phone call. "SICK!" tweeted the US President.

The fast-paced developments threatened to further hike tensions between the USA and Russian Federation, which has in the past warned against any US military action against President Bashar Assad's government.

The Israeli government had no immediate comment. "If it's Russian Federation, if it's Syria, if it's Iran, if it's all of them together, we'll figure it out", Trump said. The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied carrying out the attack.

The U.N. Security Council planned to hold an emergency meeting Monday to discuss the chemical attack.

The U.S. missile strike was against a Syrian air base which Washington said was used to launch the strike.

Moscow said some 8,000 fighters and 40,000 civilians would be bussed out and said that proved "no chemical weapons were used in this area".

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