Syrian state media retracts claim of missile attack on airbase | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 16.04.2018
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Syrian state media retracts claim of missile attack on airbase

Syrian state media outlets reported a missile attack on Shayrat Airbase before retracting the report just hours later. Syrian military said it was a false alarm which activated the base's areal defenses.

Syrian military rejected reports of a missile attack on Shayrat Airbase in the western province of Homs on Tuesday, hours after state media decried another "aggression" on Syria and said its forces shot down several missiles.

"Last night, a false alarm that Syrian air space had been penetrated triggered the blowing of air defence sirens and the firing of several missiles," a military source told state news agency SANA."There was no external attack on Syria," the source added.

The false report came just days after the US, France and Britain conducted a coordinated missile attack against Syrian government targets. This area has also been targeted by the Israeli air force in the past.

Read more: Airstrikes in Syria: What you need to know

What we know so far:

  • State-run news agency SANA reported air defenses had shot down some of the missiles targeting the base.
  • State-run television showed images of an intercepted missile and called the attack an "aggression."
  • The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, reported that big explosions were heard near Shayrat airbase and two other airbases near Damascus.
  • The US Department of Defense said there was "no US military activity in that area at this time." 
  • Asked about the incident, an Israeli military spokesman said: "We don't comment on such reports."
  • Separately, a media outlet run by Hezbollah, a pro-Iranian militia, said Syrian government air defenses had shot down three missiles targeting Dumair military airport north east of the capital Damascus.
  • DPA news agency said Syrian military sources dubbed the event a false alarm, which was later confirmed by state media

Read more: Theresa May grilled in UK parliament over Syria airstrikes

Shayrat airbase infographic

The airbase was the same one targeted by the US in April 2017

Site of previous US attack: The Shayrat airbase was the target of an April 2017 US missile attack in response to an earlier chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government.

Saturday's strike: The US, France and the UK launched airstrikes against Syrian government targets on Saturday in response to an purported chemical weapons attack by the government on civilians in Douma city near Damascus.

Israeli interventions: Tel Aviv has carried out multiple airstrikes on Syrian government targets during the conflict. Syria and its allies most recently accused Israel of launching a strike against Syria's T4 airbase in Homs, killing four Iranian military personnel. Iran is a longstanding ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Read more: Russian parliament mulls retaliatory sanctions in wake of US-led Syria airstrikes

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