Syrian regime launches airstrike on town still mourning chemical attack

Published April 8th, 2017 - 08:00 GMT
Syrian residents of Khan Sheikhun hold placards and pictures on April 7, 2017 during a protest condemning a suspected chemical weapons attack on their town earlier this week that killed at least 86 people, among them 30 children. (AFP/Omar Haj Kadour)
Syrian residents of Khan Sheikhun hold placards and pictures on April 7, 2017 during a protest condemning a suspected chemical weapons attack on their town earlier this week that killed at least 86 people, among them 30 children. (AFP/Omar Haj Kadour)

Loud explosions have been heard in central Syria, close to the site of Tuesday's deadly chemical attack that killed 86 people dead.

A military plane was seen flying above the town of Khan Sheikhun, where residents are still mourning the dead from the regime's devastating sarin chemical attack earlier this week.

The jet fired a missile at 10:41am local time causing material damage, and it is still not known whether there were any casualties from the bombing.

Friday morning's airstrike is considered the first response from forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad since the US targeted the Shayrat airbase in Homs' with 59 cruise missiles, the launchpad of Tuesday's gas attack. 

Dozens of regime personnel were reported killed or injured in the attack with damage to air defences, housing for officers and a fuel depot, according to the observatory.

Syrian regime media reported nine civilians dead at the military site, including four children.

Although it appears the airfield is probably no longer be operable, the regime still has many options for bombing opposition areas. Russia still maintains the huge Hmeimem airbase in Latakia.

The move, which marks a significant shift in US policy towards Bashar al-Assad's regime, provoked a swift reaction from Russia - considered to be one of Syria's closest allies in the conflict.

Moscow announced that it would ramp up air defences in Syria in an attempt to show a tough line on the US actions.


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