The Syrian military on Thursday claimed the US-led alliance in Syria bombed a toxic chemical storehouse belonging to Islamic State jihadists, killing “hundreds.”
The claim, made by the regime’s official SANA news service, was not corroborated by any other sources.
US Air Force Col John L. Dorrian, a spokesperson for the coalition mission — dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve — rejected the Syrian claim, writing in a Twitter post that the reports are “not true! Intentional misinformation…again!”
According to SANA, which used another acronym for the Islamic State, the coalition “carried out an airstrike against a position of ISIS terrorists” on Wednesday evening “in the village of Hatla to the east of Deir Ezzor, causing a white cloud that became yellow as a result of the explosion of a huge store that includes a large amount of toxic materials.”
The purported airstrike “killed hundreds, including large numbers of civilians, due to the suffocation resulted from inhaling toxic substances.”
— OIR Spokesman (@OIRSpox) April 13, 2017
The regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad drew international opprobrium and a US missile strike last week after Western governments accused Damascus of employing the nerve agent sarin in bombings in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikoun in the northern Idlib province, killing nearly 90 people, including some 27 children.
The Syrian government has repeatedly denied carrying out the chemical weapons strike, claiming last week that it “has never used them, anytime, anywhere, and will not do so in the future.”
But according to CNN report Wednesday, the US intercepted communications between chemical weapons experts and Syrian military officials planning the deadly attack on Khan Sheikoun.
On Wednesday US President Donald Trump told allies it was time to end Syria’s “brutal” civil war, as he branded Assad a “butcher” and questioned Russia’s role in the chemical attack.
Trump, standing alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, called on allies to “work together to resolve the disaster” in Syria and thanked them for condemning Assad’s suspected sarin attack in Khan Sheikhoun.
“Vicious slaughter of innocent civilians with chemical weapons including the barbaric killing of small and helpless children and babies must be forcefully rejected by any nation that values human life,” Trump told reporters.
“That’s a butcher. That’s a butcher. So I felt we had to do something about it. I have absolutely no doubt we did the right thing, and it was very, very successfully done,” he added.
“It is time to end this brutal civil war, defeat terrorists and allow refugees to return home.”
Trump’s comments came shortly after Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have compelled Damascus to cooperate with an investigation of the Khan Sheikoun attack last week.
Trump said it was “certainly possible” that Russia President Vladimir Putin knew about the attack, blamed on Assad, indicating Russian officials were present at the launching airbase, which the US later bombed.
“I would like to think that they didn’t know, but certainly they could have. They were there. So we’ll find out,” he said.