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Missile strikes on a Syrian air base have left 14 dead hours after Donald Trump warned ‘animal’ dictator Bashar al-Assad there would be a ‘big price to pay’ for a horrifying chemical attack that killed dozens of children.

The airstrikes conducted in Syria

US and French officials have denied launching the strikes, which killed a number of Iranian fighters allied to Assad’s regime, at the T4 military air base in Homs province.

It followed a suspected poison gas attack on Saturday – on the last remaining foothold for the Syrian opposition in the eastern suburbs of Damascus – that left at least 40 dead and men, women and children gasping for air and foaming at the mouth.

Syria’s state-run news agency said this morning that the air base strike was likely ‘an American aggression’ – but Pentagon spokesman Christopher Sherwood said in a statement: ‘At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting air strikes in Syria.’

French armed forces spokesman Colonel Patrik Steiger added: ‘It was not us.’

Israel carried out strikes against a Syrian government base in the country’s centre in February, with war monitors identifying it at the time as T-4.

Israel has struck targets inside Syria on multiple occasions throughout the country’s seven-year war, including those linked to Iran and Hezbollah or to Assad’s chemical weapons programme. An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment this morning.

Earlier, President Donald Trump had promised a ‘big price to pay’ for the suspected chemical attack.

The U.N. Security Council is planning to meet in emergency session on Monday to discuss the poison gas attack.

The Syrian government is denying the allegations, calling them fabrications. But human rights groups and U.N. officials say the tactic amounts to forced displacement, a war crime.

Trump had lashed out at Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday morning for his role in propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in light of the chemical attack.

‘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,’ Trump wrote. ‘President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad.’

‘Open area immediately for medical help and verification,’ he ordered.

‘Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!’ he wrote.

Trump also used the opportunity to criticize his predecessor.

‘If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In the Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago!’ Trump tweeted. ‘Animal Assad would have been history!’

Trump was referring to Obama’s statement – which the former president later backed away from – that if he saw ‘a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized’ that would be a ‘red line’ that would change the equation in Syria.  Obama had threatened military action if this was the case.

‘Until this minute, no one has been able to find out the kind of agent that was used,’ Mahmoud said in a video statement from northern Syria.

The Syrian government, in a statement posted on the state-run news agency SANA, denied the allegations. It said the claims were ‘fabrications’ by the Army of Islam and a ‘failed attempt’ to impede government advances.

‘The army, which is advancing rapidly and with determination, does not need to use any kind of chemical agents,’ the statement said.

The latest assault on Douma came after talks between the Army of Islam and Russia collapsed Friday, ending 10 days of calm for residents trapped inside.

Russia denied any involvement in the attack. Maj. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko was quoted by Russian news agencies Sunday as saying Russia was prepared to send specialists to Douma to ‘confirm the fabricated nature’ of the reports.

President Trump has said that he wants out of Syria as quickly as possible.

The Associated Press reported on Friday that Trump made it clear to top aides that he wanted U.S. troops out of Syria within the next six months.

His plan faced unanimous opposition from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon, the State Department and the intelligence community, who all argued that keeping the 2,000 soldiers in Syria was the key to keeping the Islamic State at bay.

Defense Secretary James Mattis argued that an immediate withdrawal could be catastrophic and logistically impossible to pull off in a responsible way, the AP reported.

Mattis floated a one-year withdrawal as an alternative.

Trump said he’d give the military six months to get the job done.

Daily Mail

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