A missile strike on a central Syria air base was the work of Israeli warplanes in the early morning hours of Monday and caused many casualties according to the Russian and Syrian governments, amidst concerns over renewed regional confrontations.
Officials in Israel did not comment on any of the reports.
Monday’s raid on the Homs province T4 airfield arrives during a time that tensions have increased over possible military action by the U.S. in Syria as a response to a suspected attack with chemical weapons on a suburb of Damascus late Saturday.
Officials in the U.S. said they were looking at their options to strike targets of the Syrian government and the Monday strike was blamed on the U.S. at first by the Syria state run news agency. However, later it retracted that following denials from the Pentagon, when a statement was released in Washington saying that at his time, the Defense Department was not carrying out any airstrikes in Syria.
On Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump said a big price to pay would be experienced for the chemical attack that killed dozens in the Damascus suburb of Douma.
Both Russia and Syria denied the government of Syria’s involvement with that attack. A military source in Syria and the Defense Ministry of Russia said that F-15 Israeli fighter jets attacked the air base in Syria from airspace in Lebanon.
According to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in Britain, most of the 14 who were killed were either forces from Iran or proxies that were backed by Iran supporting the government of Syria.
Iran is a big ally of the regime in Syria, and has sent forces as well as assets in Syria, including a network of fighters who are pro-government its uses in battles with rebels from Syria.
Israel has become more alarmed due to Iran and Hezbollah its Lebanese proxy extending their reach militarily and influence across the region, including expanded presence near the northern border of Israel.
In February, it was confirmed by Israel that it targeted the same Homs airfield after a drone from Iran had entered Israel airspace.
The strike on Monday comes amidst a deal that was reportedly agreed to that would evacuate rebel fighters from Douma after the Syrian government’s alleged chemical weapon attack on Saturday. Russian representatives and Jaish al-Islam militants had been holding negotiations for their exit.