Russia Says Israel, Not US, Hit Syria Base
Strike was initially blamed on 'American aggression'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2018 5:55 AM CDT
Updated Apr 9, 2018 6:29 AM CDT
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A US soldier sits on an armored vehicle at a newly installed position, near the tense front line between the US-backed Syrian Manbij Military Council and Turkish-backed fighters, in Manbij, north Syria last week.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)
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(Newser) – Syria initially denounced "American aggression," but Russia says Israel, not the US, was to blame for a missile strike on a Syrian air base early Monday believed to have killed at least 14 people, including Iranian fighters. Syria now also accuses Israel of being behind the strike on a base in Homs province, where analysts say there are large numbers of Russian fighters, the Telegraph reports. Russia says the strike involved eight missiles, five of which were shot down. Israel, which has attacked targets in Syria numerous other times, including the T4 base hit Monday, has yet to comment. The strike "could be part of Israel's growing effort to contain Iran's military build-up in Syria and to interrupt the supply of advanced Iranian missiles to its Lebanese Shia ally, Hezbollah," says BBC analyst Jonathan Marcus.

Syria's state-run news agency dropped the accusation of American involvement soon after the Pentagon issued a denial, the AP reports. On Sunday, President Trump vowed that the regime of "Animal Assad" would pay "a big price" for a suspected chemical attack that killed dozens of Syrian civilians in a rebel-held area. The White House hasn't ruled out a strike on the regime, though it would drag Trump deeper into a conflict he says he wants the US to pull out of, the New York Times reports. American military officials are arguing for keeping US troops in Syria, while Russia and Iran have cheered the possibility of withdrawal. "The less American interference, the fewer American soldiers, the better for everyone," says Russian senator Andrei A. Klimov, deputy head of the chamber's foreign affairs committee.

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