Day: April 9, 2017

German historian: Hitler had a Jewish landlord

(JTA) — Adolf Hitler had a Jewish landlord, a German historian says.

Hitler lived in a home in Munich that was owned by a Jewish merchant between the years 1920 and 1929, according to Paul Hoser. Hitler spent one of those years in Landsberg prison for his and his Nazi Party’s failed coup attempt known as the Beer Hall Putsch, in 1923 in Munich in the German state of Bavaria.

Hoser, in a quarterly journal issued by the Institute for Contemporary History, known as VfZ, identified the landlord as Hugo Erlanger. He also reported that Hitler treated his landlord “with courtesy,” the Associated Press reported, citing report on the research in Der Spiegel magazine.

According to Hoser’s research, Erlanger lost the house in 1934, after falling behind on mortgage payments but recovered it in 1949 after surviving World War II.


Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon meet to end ‘palace intrigue’

(JTA) — President Donald Trump’s top strategist Steve Bannon and his advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner reportedly met in an attempt to smooth tensions that have roiled the administration.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus ordered the meeting at the request of the president, according to reports. The meeting was confirmed to the political news website Politico by two unnamed White House officials.

News of tensions between Bannon and Kushner, who reportedly were close during the campaign, followed Trump’s order last week removing Bannon from the National Security Council.

According to the reports, Kushner believes Bannon went too far in pushing for the Muslim travelers’ bans and in playing hardball with Congress in an attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act. Both initiatives failed.

Bannon reportedly resents Kushner for bringing figures associated with Democrats into the White House.

A Daily Beast report on Thursday said Bannon called Kushner a “cuck” and “globalist,” terms familiar to “alt-right” conspiracy theorists. “Cuck,” a play on “cuckold,” is the alt-right term for conservatives who allowed themselves to be played by liberals and the establishment. “Globalist” refers to theories of a conspiracy of elites to maintain control of the global economy.

It is not known if the meeting between the two men was successful.

Reuters reported, citing an unnamed White House official, that Priebus’ message to Bannon and Kushner was to “stop with the palace intrigue” and focus on the president’s agenda.

Both aides left having agreed that it was time to “bury the hatchet and move forward,” the official said, according to Reuters.

Rumors have surfaced about an upcoming White House shake-up that could see Bannon and Priebus leaving their positions.



BERLIN – The Germany military’s counter-intelligence agency is looking into 275 suspected right-wing extremists in its ranks, including a soldier heard saying “Heil Hitler,” the Defense Ministry has told parliament in a letter seen by Reuters on Sunday.

About 143 of the cases were reported last year and 53 this year, the ministry wrote in its 15-page answer, detailing incidents of soldiers performing Nazi salutes or uttering racist remarks against servicemen with migrant backgrounds.


Public displays of Nazi symbols and salutes are illegal in Germany, where most people are repulsed by any degree of sympathy to the dictatorship responsible for the Holocaust.

The letter noted the lax manner in which some of the most serious cases have been dealt with.

One such incident is Case 29, which involved a soldier who was heard conspicuously saying “Heil Hitler,” “Heil our leader” and “Sieg Heil, comrades,” the ministry said.

“The case was passed on to the military prosecutor and the public prosecutor’s office, but neither an early dismissal nor a service ban took place,” it wrote to parliament.

Another case involved a soldier who used a Facebook page associated with the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) to spread racist remarks, including demanding the death sentence for “typical foreigners.”

Germany’s Constitutional Court said in January that the NPD resembled Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party but ruled against banning it because it was too weak to endanger democracy.

The ministry said the soldier was “only disciplined.”

In a third case, a soldier was allowed to keep his weapon after he was disciplined for performing the Nazi salute while on a trip to the Latvian capital, Riga.

German media reported last year that there are signs Islamists were trying to join the German armed forces to get military training with the possible goal of carrying out attacks in Germany.




TANTA/CAIRO – Islamic State was responsible for two Coptic church bombings in Egypt on Palm Sunday that killed at least 36 and injured over 100, the group’s news agency Amaq said.

“A group that belongs to Islamic State carried out the two attacks on the churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria,” Amaq said.


At least 36 people were killed and more than 100 injured in bomb attacks on two Coptic churches on Palm Sunday, in the latest assault on a religious minority increasingly targeted by Islamist militants.

The attack comes a week before Coptic Easter and in the same month that Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Egypt.

The first bombing, in Tanta, a Nile Delta city less than 100 kilometers outside Cairo, killed at least 25 and injured at least 78, Egypt’s Ministry of Health said.

The second, carried out just a few hours later by a suicide bomber in Alexandria, hit the historic seat of the Coptic Pope, killing 11, including three police officers, and injuring 35, the ministry added.

A relative of one of the victims reacts after a church explosion killed at least 21 in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017 (Reuters)A relative of one of the victims reacts after a church explosion killed at least 21 in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017 (Reuters)

Pope Tawadros, who had attended mass at Saint Mark’s Cathedral, was still in the building at the time of the explosion but was not harmed, the Ministry of Interior said.

The bombings come as Islamic State’s branch in Egypt appears to be stepping up attacks and threats against Christians.

In February, Christian families and students fled Egypt’s North Sinai province after a spate of targeted killings.

Those attacks came after one of the deadliest on Egypt’s Christian minority, when a suicide bomber hit its largest Coptic cathedral, killing at least 25. Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attack.

Thousands gathered outside the church in Tanta shortly after the blast, some wearing black, crying, and describing a scene of carnage.

“There was blood all over the floor and body parts scattered,” said a Christian woman who was inside the church.

“There was a huge explosion in the hall. Fire and smoke filled the room and the injuries were extremely severe,” another Christian woman, Vivian Fareeg, said.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Prime Minister Sherif Ismail are set to visit the Tanta site on Sunday and Sisi has ordered an emergency national defense council meeting, state news reported.

In Israel, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely condemned the incident as a terrorist attack, saying it served as a reminder that Egypt is also under attack by terrorists.

Hotovely, in the first Israeli response to the Palm Sunday attack, said that terrorism does not stop at Stockholm, St, Petersburg, Berlin, London and Jerusalem.

“Alongside the sadness and the mourning, we must unite forces with an iron fist against the Axis of Evil and terrorism,” she said. “Israel is a partner in the fight against terror everywhere it hits and will extend a hand in order to wipe it out.”

Relatives of victims reacts after a church explosion killed at least 21 in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017 (Reuters)Relatives of victims reacts after a church explosion killed at least 21 in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017 (Reuters)

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on also condemned the bombing of the Egyptian church, Wafa, the official PA news site, reported.

Abbas said the Palestinian people and leadership stand with the Egyptian people, leadership and army against “the blind terror that is targeting Egypt.”

Christians, mostly Orthodox Copts, account for about 10 percent of Egypt’s population, which is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim. Copts face regular attacks by Muslim neighbors, who burn their homes and churches in poor rural areas, usually in anger over an inter-faith romance or the construction of church.

Islamic State’s branch in Egypt, which has waged a low-level conflict for years in the Sinai peninsula, has stepped up attacks on Christians in Egypt in recent months.


A shift in Islamic State’s tactics, which has waged a low-level conflict for years in the Sinai peninsula against soldiers and police, to targeting Christian civilians and broadening its reach into Egypt’s mainland is a potential turning point in a country trying to prevent a provincial insurgency from spiraling into wider sectarian bloodshed.

Egypt’s Christian community has felt increasingly insecure since Islamic State spread through Iraq and Syria in 2014, ruthlessly targeting religious minorities. In 2015, 21 Egyptian Christians working in Libya were killed by Islamic State.

“Of course we feel targeted, there was a bomb here about a week ago but it was dismantled. There’s no security,” said another Christian woman in Tanta referring to an attack earlier this month near a police training center that killed one policeman and injured 15..

Copts face regular attacks by Muslim neighbors, who burn their homes and churches in poor rural areas, usually in anger over an inter-faith romance or the construction of a church..



Syrian dictator Bashar Assad must go, and Israel must help convince the international community to bring him down, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former No.2 in the Likud, Gideon Sa’ar, told The Jerusalem Post Sunday.

In his first interview with a print newspaper since he returned to politics following a two-and-a-half year hiatus, Sa’ar explained why he has the best chance to succeed Netanyahu as prime minister.


During his timeout from politics, Sa’ar conducted in-depth research of the Syrian issue at the Institute for National Security Studies, adding to the knowledge he gained in the security cabinet.

“Israel has an interest in Assad losing power,” Sa’ar said. “His replacement won’t be a Zionist. But Iran is the most dangerous enemy of Israel, and therefore its control over Syria and its ability to deliver arms to Hezbollah make it the most problematic situation for us.”

Sa’ar said he does not think Israel should be involved militarily in Syria, but if the US decided to remove Assad, it will be in Israel’s interest.

He praised the American attack on a Syrian base Friday morning, but said it was a pinpoint strike in response to Assad using chemical weapons and does not show an American strategy on Syria.

The former minister explained that the world lives in fear of radical Sunni Islam, because ISIS is behind most of the recent terrorist attacks in the world, but because Iran is the dominant military force funding terrorism in the region, is pursuing nuclear weapons and exports Islamic radicalism, Israel sees it as much more dangerous. He said that makes Israel’s focus on Iran different than that of the international community.

“We have to understand what our interests are, then persuade the world, which is not simple,” he said. “But the Trump administration sees the world differently than the Obama administration, which saw Iran as stabilizing the region.”

Asked whether he backed Netanyahu’s efforts to prevent Obama’s deal with Iran, he said he supported the prime minister’s decision to address Congress and warn against the agreement. But he suggested that perhaps the efforts should have ended once they were hopeless because of the importance of maintaining bipartisan US support for Israel.

“Once the deal was signed, I have my doubts as to whether continuing the struggle was the right thing to do,” he said. “Continuing to fight the deal once it was signed did not change anything, and it is doubtful we could have changed anything at that stage.”

Sa’ar lamented that a decision on attacking Iran did not reach the security cabinet between 2011 and 2013, when the geopolitical situation would have made it relatively easier. He now favors a regional security framework formalizing cooperation between Israel and its neighbors against the Iranian threat.

Israel has mutual strategic interests with Egypt and Jordan against Iran, Sa’ar said. He warned that those interests could be harmed by engaging in the Palestinian issue. Unlike Netanyahu, Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, Sa’ar is more cautious about using a regional approach to solving the Palestinian issue.

“A regional approach is just a slogan, so the question is what the content would be,” he said. “There are two options. If Jordan and Egypt take part in the solution – the approach can be constructive. But if the Arab countries back the Palestinians, pressure on Israel would grow and this would not serve Israel’s interests.”

Sa’ar said possible ideas for the Trump administration to consider would be a confederation of Jordan with the Palestinian Authority, and former national security council head Giora Eiland’s plan for regional exchanges of territories that includes expanding Palestinian-controlled territory into the Sinai Peninsula.

When asked what his advice would be to Trump, he said: “Israel needs to present new ideas, not the paradigm that has failed over the past 25 years. The negotiations didn’t just fail time after time, even after Israel presented generous offers.

The paradigm of a Palestinian state based on 67 lines and dividing Jerusalem cannot work. It’s not practical.

It won’t give the Palestinians a viable state or bring security to Israel.”

Sa’ar has been careful not to criticize Netanyahu since his return, following tradition in the Likud of respecting the party leader.

He went further on Sunday, saying that his comeback is not impacted by investigations of Netanyahu and that he hopes the current government can last its full term, which ends in November 2019.

“I said all along that I would return to politics within the Likud, and with elections taking place no later than 2019; I can’t come back 15 minutes before,” he said. “I have to work and that means journeying all over the country, presenting Likudniks and the general public with ideas and reforms I thought of during my break from politics.”

Sa’ar will soon begin in Haifa and he has already set 10 stops. He made his comeback speech in Acre to put an emphasis on helping those in the periphery, where he believes his ideas could improve the quality of life.

Although Sa’ar opposed the Likud’s decision to already select Netanyahu as its candidate in the next general election, he has accepted it and is preparing for the post-Netanyahu era, whenever it comes.

When Sa’ar announced his comeback, Lapid praised him and expressed hope they would work together in the future. But Sa’ar poured cold water over Lapid’s idea of heading a government that would include the Likud as a coalition partner in a government led by Yesh Atid.

“I don’t believe in Lapid’s path, and ideology is what matters,” he said. “The Likud must lead and Lapid, like others, cannot be ruled out as a partner for us. It is healthy that the Likud has tended to be either be in power or in the opposition.”

Asked if it bothers him how little he is known overseas compared to Lapid and others, Sa’ar said he will continue devoting most of his efforts to reaching out to Israelis.

“When I run for prime minister, I don’t know if Lapid will still be a candidate, but I have a higher chance of getting elected and forming a government than he does,” he said. “I have much wider support.

I have the best chance of anyone to be the next prime minister.”

Death toll in clashes at Lebanon Palestinian camp rises to 5

The toll in two days of clashes in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon rose to five on Sunday, medics said, as local factions worked to implement a security plan.

Clashes erupted in the camp late Friday as Palestinian factions participating in a joint security force begun deploying throughout the area in the southern city of Sidon.

They came under fire from a local Islamic extremist group in part of the camp, prompting clashes that Lebanese and Palestinian medics said Sunday have now killed five people and wounded at least 30, mostly civilians.

Among the dead were two civilians, two members of the joint Palestinian security force and one member of the extremist group, the medical sources said.

The fighting has prompted security measures outside the camp, which Lebanese security forces do not enter by longstanding agreement.

Lebanese Red Cross members wheel a baby in an neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) into an ambulance during clashes in Ain al-Hilweh camp, Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp, near the southern coastal city of Sidon, on April 8, 2017. (AFP/Mahmoud Zayyat)

An adjacent highway has been cut and patients moved from the Sidon governmental hospital next to the camp.

Palestinian officials in the camp called Sunday on remaining members of a group led by a local extremist to surrender with their weapons. Around noon, the intensity of the clashes decreased after earlier fighting that sent clouds of black smoke up from the camp.

Ain al-Hilweh is home to multiple armed factions, and has been plagued by intermittent clashes between them as well as against smaller extremist groups.

Lebanon’s army does not enter Palestinian refugee camps, where security is managed by joint committees of Palestinian factions.

Ain al-Hilweh is home to some 61,000 Palestinians, including 6,000 who have fled the war in Syria.

US intel chiefs (White Freemasons) said to tell Trump he might consider killing Kim Jong-un

In its efforts to grapple with North Korea, the US might consider killing its leader Kin Jong-un or deploying nuclear weapons in South Korea, the National Security Council has reportedly suggested to President Donald Trump.

According to NBC News, top-ranking intelligence and military officials say returning US nuclear weapons to South Korea after 25 years is one of the moves under consideration by the Council, in response to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The NSC also presented Trump with the possibility of assassinating Kim, along with the option of infiltrating special forces into North Korea and then sabotaging key nuclear infrastructure.

One option “is to target and kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and other senior leaders in charge of the country’s missiles and nuclear weapons and decision-making,” NBC news said.

Such scenarios are part of an accelerated review of North Korea policy that were prepared in advance of Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week, NBC said, quoting multiple top-ranking intelligence and military officials.

The report came days after Trump ordered airstrikes on a Syrian air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack widely believed to have been carried out by Bashar Assad’s forces that killed over 80 civilians.

Analysts had earlier said the strikes contained a clear message for Pyongyang that the US was not afraid to exercise the military option, and there had been speculation as to how the North would respond.

US President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House on April 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

On Saturday, North Korea said the US missile strikes on Syria were an “intolerable act of aggression” that “proves a million times over” that strengthening its nuclear program was the right choice, state media reported.

The comments were Pyongyang’s first since the US on Thursday fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from warships in the Mediterranean at the airfield near Homs in central Syria.

“The US missile attack against Syria is a clear and intolerable act of aggression against a sovereign state and we strongly condemn it,” KCNA news agency quoted an unnamed spokesman for the North Korean foreign ministry as saying.

“The reality of today shows that we must stand against power with power and it proves a million times over that our decision to strengthen our nuclear deterrence has been the right choice.”

Trump has recently threatened unilateral action against Pyongyang if Beijing fails to help curb its neighbor’s nuclear weapons program.

However, Pyongyang’s response suggested the reclusive state was determined to continue with its nuclear weapons program.

“Swaggering as a superpower, the US has been picking only on countries without nuclear weapons and the Trump administration is no exception,” the foreign ministry spokesman said, according to KCNA.

A woman walks past a television screen showing file footage of North Korea's missile launch at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, February 12, 2017. (AFP/Jung Yeon-Je)

“The Syria attack thoroughly reminds us the fact that it is absolutely dangerous to have any illusions about imperialism and only military power of our own will protect us from imperialistic aggression,” he added.

“We will keep bolstering our self-defensive military might in various ways in order to cope with the ever-intensifying US acts of aggression.”

The North has carried out five nuclear tests — two of them last year — and expert satellite imagery analysis suggests it could well be preparing for a sixth.

Pyongyang has shown no sign of reining in a missile testing program ultimately aimed at securing the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental United States.

Rex Tillerson (White Freemason) to press Russia on Syrian chemical weapons

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will press Russia on its failure to prevent Syria’s use of chemical weapons in meetings this week in Moscow, he said in interviews aired Sunday.

Tillerson stopped short of accusing the Russians of complicity in a suspected sarin nerve gas attack April 4 that killed at least 87 civilians in Syria’s southern Idlib province.

“I don’t draw conclusions of complicity at all, but clearly they’ve been incompetent and perhaps they’ve just simply been out-maneuvered by the Syrians,” Tillerson said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” program.

Tillerson will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday, just days after the United States fired Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base in retaliation for the chemical attack.

In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launches a tomahawk land attack missile in the Mediterranean Sea, Friday, April 7, 2017. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/U.S. Navy via AP)

It was the first time the United States has intervened directly in the Syrian civil war against the Russian-backed regime of President Bashar Assad.

Moscow has sought to deflect blame from its long-time ally Assad over the incident and says Syrian jets struck a rebel arms depot where “toxic substances” were being put inside bombs.

This photo provided Tuesday, April 4, 2017 by the Syrian anti-government activist group Edlib Media Center, shows victims of a suspected chemical attack, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, Syria. (Edlib Media Center, via AP)

“Part of the discussions when I visit Moscow next week is to call upon Foreign Minister Lavrov and the Russian government to fulfill the obligation it made to the international community when it agreed to be the guarantor of the elimination of the chemical weapons and why Russia has not been able to achieve that is unclear to me.”

If Syria carries out more chemical attacks, he said, “that is going to be clearly very damaging to US-Russian relations.

“I do not believe that the Russians want to have worsening relationships with the US, but it’s going to take a lot of discussion and a lot of dialogue to better understand what is the relationship that Russia wishes to have with the US.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and then ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson at a ceremony to present awards to the heads and employees of major energy companies in Saint Petersburg on June 21, 2013. (AFP Photo/Sputnik/Michael Klimentyev)

At the same time, Tillerson and other top US officials made clear that the US objective was limited to deterring further chemical attacks, and not the start of a campaign to oust Assad.

“We’re asking and calling on Bashar Assad to cease the use of these weapons. Other than that, there is no change to our military posture,” he said.

“I’m hopeful that we can have constructive talks with the Russian government, with Foreign Minister Lavrov and have Russia be supportive of a process that will lead to a stable Syria.”

Stockholm truck attacker was a rejected asylum-seeker

The suspected Stockholm truck attacker had shown interest in extremist groups and had his permanent residency application rejected in June 2016, Swedish police said on Sunday.

“We know that he showed interest for extremist organizations like IS,” police chief Jonas Hysing told reporters, referring to the Islamic State group.

He added that two Swedes, one Briton and a Belgian were killed in the attack and another 15 injured.

The suspect, who has only been officially identified as a 39-year-old man from Uzbekistan, “applied for a permanent residency permit in 2014,” Hysing said.

“The Migration Agency rejected it in June 2016 and also decided that he was to be expelled,” he added.

“In December 2016, he was informed by the Migration Agency that he had four weeks to leave the country. In February 2017, the case was handed over to the police to carry out the order, since the person had gone underground,” he said.

But police apparently never found the man.

On Friday, the suspect is alleged to have barreled a stolen beer truck several hundred meters (yards) down the bustling pedestrian street Drottninggatan in the heart of Stockholm.

The vehicle mowed down shoppers before slamming into the facade of the busy Ahlens department store.

Police said several people have been arrested and another 500 questioned in connection with the case.

Thousands of people were to gather in central Stockholm on Sunday for a “Lovefest” vigil against terrorism.

UN’s Haley: After chemical attack, Assad has to go


BEIRUT (AFP) — Washington’s UN ambassador said that Syria’s President Bashar aAssad cannot stay in power after a suspected chemical attack that prompted the first direct US military action against his government.

Nikki Haley’s comments in an interview airing Sunday came as part of an apparent shift in US policy towards Assad’s government after the alleged chemical attack last week on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed 87 people, including many children.

Images of civilians suffering the apparent effects of a gas attack, including convulsions, vomiting and foaming at the mouth, provoked international outrage and prompted US President Donald Trump to order a strike on a Syrian airbase.

In the interview with CNN, Haley said peace in Syria was impossible with Assad in power.

“There’s not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime,” she told the “State of the Union” program.

“If you look at his actions, if you look at the situation, it’s going to be hard to see a government that’s peaceful and stable with Assad.”

“Regime change is something that we think is going to happen,” she said, adding that Washington was also focused on fighting the Islamic State group in Syria and ending Iranian influence.

Tillerson: IS fight top priority

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson insisted however that defeating IS in Syria remained Washington’s top priority.

“It’s important that we keep our priorities straight. And we believe that the first priority is the defeat of ISIS,” Tillerson said in an interview with CBS television’s “Face the Nation” being broadcast later Sunday.

“Once the ISIS threat has been reduced or eliminated, I think we can turn our attention directly to stabilising the situation in Syria,” he said, using an alternative acronym for IS.

After years of calling for Assad’s removal during former president Barack Obama’s tenure, Washington appeared to be stepping back from seeking regime change in Syria in recent weeks.

Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Prior to the attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Tillerson said Assad’s fate should be decided by the Syrian people, suggesting Washington would not oppose him standing for reelection.

And Haley too said Washington’s priority was “no longer to sit and focus on getting Assad out.”

But in the aftermath of the attack, Trump ordered the strike targeting the Shayrat air base in central Syria’s Homs province with 59 Tomahawk missiles.

And his administration informed Congress that it could “take additional action, as necessary and appropriate, to further its important national interests.”

Iran’s Rouhani calls Assad

Syria’s government has denied any involvement in Tuesday’s attack on Khan Sheikhun, suspected to be the second-deadliest chemical weapons attack since the country’s war began in March 2011.

It killed at least 87 civilians, including 31 children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor.

Hundreds more suffered symptoms that the World Health Organization said were in some cases consistent with exposure to chemicals that include nerve gas.

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks during an interview with Yahoo News in Damascus, Syria, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 (SANA via AP)

The exact nature of the substance used in the attack has not been confirmed, and Syria has insisted it would not and has not used chemical weapons.

Assad’s government signed the Chemical Weapons Convention and agreed to turn over its chemical armaments in 2013, after being accused of a sarin attack outside Damascus that killed hundreds of people.

But there have been repeated allegations of chemical weapons use by the government since then.

Syrian children receive treatment following a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, April 4, 2017. (AFP/Mohamed al-Bakour)

Syria’s closest allies Russia and Iran have defended Damascus against the allegations of chemical weapons use, with Moscow saying a conventional strike hit a rebel depot containing “toxic substances.”

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called Assad to reaffirm his support for the Syrian leader in the wake of the US strike, Rouhani’s office said on Sunday.

“The nation of Iran will remain alongside the Syrian nation in fighting terrorism and safeguarding Syria’s territorial integrity,” Rouhani said in the call on Saturday evening, according to a statement on the presidency website.

He said allegations that Assad’s regime was behind a chemical weapons attack were “baseless” and suggested it was carried out by rebel groups to influence global public opinion.

Moscow on Sunday also slammed Britain after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson canceled a trip over Russian support for Assad.

The British have “no real influence,” Russia’s foreign ministry said.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began, and strikes have continued since the suspected chemical attack.

On Saturday, one woman was killed in a suspected Russian airstrike on Khan Sheikhoun, the Observatory said.

New strikes hit outside the town on Sunday, with no immediate reports of casualties, the monitor added.