Missiles struck an air base in central Syria early Monday, its state-run news agency reported. Although the agency said it was likely “an American aggression,” U.S. officials said the U.S. had not launched airstrikes on Syria.
The missile attack followed a suspected poison gas attack Saturday on the last remaining foothold for the Syrian opposition in the eastern suburbs of Damascus. At least 40 people were killed, including families found in their homes and shelters, opposition activists and local rescuers said.
SANA reported that the missile attack on the T4 military air base in Homs province resulted in a number of casualties.
Earlier, President Donald Trump had promised a “big price to pay” for the suspected chemical attack. After the airstrikes were reported, however, Pentagon spokesman Christopher Sherwood said in a statement, “At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting air strikes in Syria.”
The U.S. launched several dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base last year after a chemical attack in the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun killed dozens of people. Israel has also struck inside Syria in recent years.
The suspected poison gas attack Saturday on the besieged town of Douma came almost exactly a year after the U.S. missile attack prompted by the Khan Sheikhoun deaths.
In response to the reports from Douma, Trump on Sunday blamed Syrian government forces for what he called a “mindless CHEMICAL attack.” In a series of tweets, Trump held Russia and Iran, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chief sponsors, responsible.
The Syrian government denied the allegations, calling them fabrications.
First responders entering apartments in Douma late Saturday said they found bodies collapsed on floors, some foaming at the mouth. The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense rescue organization said the victims appeared to have suffocated.
They did not identify the substance used, but the civil defense organization, also known as the White Helmets, and the Syrian American Medical Society, a medical relief organization, said survivors treated at clinics smelled strongly of chlorine.