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lunes, 9 de abril de 2018

Airstrike hits Syrian airbase after suspected chemical weapons attack

The Levant is teetering on the edge of war after an airstrike hit a Syrian airbase on Monday, killing 14, including 4 Iranian fighters and 3 Syrian officers, according to Syrian state media reports.

Syria and Russia blamed Israel for the strike, which followed weekend reports of a chemical weapons attack in the Syrian town of Douma on Saturday that killed dozens of civilians, including children.

The atrocity in Douma has provoked an international outcry against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, whom many blame for it. That attack came almost a year after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike on Syria over a similar chemical weapons attack.

Airstrike on Syrian base kills 14

Russia’s Defense Ministry has joined Syrian state media in accusing Israeli jets of firing eight missiles — five of which were deflected — at the T4 base in central Homs on Monday. Syrian state media originally accused the U.S. of Monday’s airstrike, but later dropped the allegation after the Pentagon denied involvement, blaming Israel instead.

“At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting air strikes in Syria,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “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.”

Israel has hammered Syria numerous times since 2012, mostly targeting supply lines that allegedly funnel Iranian weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel has accused Syria of enabling Iranian entrenchment near its border.

Israel also previously attacked the same base in February, after it allegedly deployed an Iranian drone that sailed into Israeli airspace. The February strikes prompted a response from Syria that ended with an Israeli plane getting shot down for the first time in 30 years.

Middle Eastern theater heats up

President Trump warned on Twitter that Syria and its allies — namely Russia and Iran — would pay a “big price” for using chemical weapons against the civilians in Douma.

Trump vowed Sunday to make a “strong, joint response” with France, leaving the question of U.S. withdrawal in doubt:

Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world.

President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!

Asked about the possibility of U.S. military intervention, Trump said, “Nothing is off the table.” In a similar vein, Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters who asked about the possibility of a U.S. airstrike on Syria, “I don’t rule out anything right now.”

The president promised on Monday that he and his administration would make a decision soon on how to move forward following the Douma attacks, for which the Syrian government has denied responsibility. The U.N. Security Council is also set to hold an emergency meeting on the chemical attack today.

“We’ll be making that decision very quickly,” Trump said on Monday. “Probably by the end of today. We cannot allow atrocities like that.”

These chemical weapons attacks are absolutely savage and inhumane. President Trump should take a tough stance on Assad and Putin before tensions worsen in the region.