Who attacked Syria? US denies air strikes

Syrian state media reports Homs airfield attacked after several loud explosions heard

Footage on social media purported to show children being treated for the effects of a chemical attack

Washington: Several US officials said on Sunday there was no truth to reports that the US military had launched air strikes against a Syrian government air base.

The US denial followed a report by Syrian state television of loud explosions heard near the T-4 airfield in the Syrian city of Homs in the early hours of Monday that was believed to have been targeted in a suspected US missile strike.

The state media report said several people were killed and others wounded in the attack.

Strong response

US President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron vowed Sunday a “strong, joint response” to a suspected chemical attack that left dozens dead in Syria’s rebel-held town of Douma, the White House said.

“Both leaders strongly condemned the horrific chemical weapons attacks in Syria and agreed that the {Al} Assad regime must be held accountable for its continued human rights abuses,” a statement read after Trump and Macron spoke by telephone.

“They agreed to exchange information on the nature of the attacks and coordinate a strong, joint response.”

Macron accused Damascus of “chemical attacks” against civilians, as international outrage mounts against the alleged use of the weapons.

The statement from the Elysee Palace said Macron “strongly condemned the chemical attacks on April 7 against the population of Douma”.

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It added that the two leaders shared information “confirming” the use of chemical weapons and would coordinate their efforts at a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York on Monday.

Trump has warned there would be a “big price to pay” after Saturday’s attack, as rebels began evacuating Douma, the last sliver they held of their one-time stronghold Eastern Ghouta, under a deal with Syria’s regime.

“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria,” Trump wrote on Twitter, lashing out at Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, a key ally of the regime.

Damascus and its allies have denounced the accusations.

Syria’s White Helmets, who act as first responders in rebel-held areas of Syria, said “poisonous chlorine gas” had been used late Saturday.

In a joint statement with the Syrian American Medical Society, the White Helmets said more than 500 cases were brought to medical centres “with symptoms indicative of exposure to a chemical agent”.

France, which has repeatedly said evidence of chemical use in Syria could prompt military action, responded by calling for an urgent UN Security Council meeting on Monday.

The request was also signed by eight other UN Security Council members including the US and Britain, while Russia asked for a separate Security Council meeting to discuss global threats to peace.

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