U.S. missile strikes leave huge damages to targeted airbase in central Syria

Updated 2017-04-07 13:30:39 Xinhua

The U.S. missile strike that targeted a Syrian airbase in Homs province at dawn Friday left big damages, Homs governor Talal Barazi told Xinhua.

The governor said that rescue operations have started at the facility over an hour and a half ago.

He added that he thinks there are no big number of casualties, but huge damage to the airbase.

Barazi said the airbase is located east of Homs, and was a key backer to the Syrian army in the war on the Islamic State (IS) group, noting that the airbase played a significant role in liberating the ancient city of Palmyra from IS.

At dawn Friday, the U.S. struck the Syrian airbase in Homs with tens of Tomahawk missiles, a Syrian military source told Xinhua.

The attack targeted the Shairat military base in the central city of Homs, the source added, asked not to be named.

Meanwhile, the state TV also confirmed the attack, saying it was an “American aggression.”

The military source told Xinhua that the army general-command awaits the reports from Homs to precisely assess the damage.

The attack marks the U.S. response to the alleged chemical attack on rebel-held town in northwestern Syria this week.

Washington accused the Syrian army of being behind the toxic attack, an allegation totally denied by Damascus.

Barazi accused the U.S. and Israel of being backers of the terrorist groups in Syria, and partners in destroying the infrastructure of the country.

Meanwhile, Maher Ihsan, a Syrian political expert, said that the U.S. targeted the airbase, which contains air defense systems that fired at the Israeli warplanes that have infiltrated the Syrian airspace last month and carried out airstrikes on Syrian military positions.

At the time, the Syrian army said it downed one of the Israeli jets, which it said crashed over Israel, a claim the Israelis denied, but didn't hide their resentment nonetheless.

“I think that the whole chemical attack allegations were just a smoke screen for retaliating against the firing on downing of Israeli warplane,” he said.

Even Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said at a press conference Thursday that Israel is the only beneficiary of the allegations of the chemical attack, denying that the Syrian army fired toxic gas.

The minister said the army struck an arm depot which belongs to the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, adding that the depot contained chemical materials the terrorists were bringing in from Iraq.

Activists of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said over 70 people were killed in Khan Sheikhoun by the toxic gas.

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