Russia points finger at Israel for missile attack on Syrian base

RUSSIA and Syria have blamed Israel for a pre-dawn missile attack on a major air base in central Syria that killed 14 people, including seven Iranians.

They said that two Israeli F-15 fighter jets fired eight missiles from Lebanon's air space on to the Tiyas airbase, known as T-4, near the city of Homs.

Russia's defence ministry claimed that Syria shot down five of them while the other three landed in the western part of the base.

Israel's foreign ministry had no comment on the accusations, nor on reports that America was given prior knowledge of the raid.

One report said that in the past few months, Iran has begun using the base as if it were its own, and transferring weapons to allies in an attempt to build up its strength against Israel.

Since 2012, Israel has struck inside Syria more than 100 times, mostly targeting weapons' convoys destined for the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

Israeli media reported that a shipment of weapons from Iran that recently reached T-4 was likely the target of Monday’s attack.

Rami Abdurrahman, head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the assault targeted a mobile air defence unit and some buildings in the air base.

He added that it also hit posts outside the base used by the Iranians and Iran-backed fighters.

Israel fears Iran could use Syria's territory to stage attacks on it. Israel hit the same base in February after an Iranian drone which violated Israeli airspace took off from there.

It is near the Shayrat air base, which was targeted by American missiles last year in response to a chemical weapons attack.

Monday's missile raid came hours after President Donald Trump warned there would be a “big price to pay” after a suspected poison gas attack on Saturday on a remaining foothold for Syrian rebels in the eastern suburbs of Damascus killed at least 40 people.

Israeli opposition MP Yair Lapid told Army Radio: “Israel will not accept an Iranian military presence in Syria and will not accept Iran’s creeping entrenchment in Syria.”

Housing Minister Yoav Galant, while also not confirming that Israel had carried out the attack, said: “We have clear interests in Syria. We laid down red lines there, which said that we would not allow Syrian land to be a springboard for game-changing weaponry to Lebanon, we would not allow the building of an Iranian army in Syria and we would not allow the opening of another front on the Golan Heights.”

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