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'False Alarm' As Syrian State TV Says Air Defenses Shoot Down Missiles

The Shayrat Airfield in Homs is seen in this DigitalGlobe satellite image on February 18, 2017, and released by the Pentagon last year after announcing U.S. forces conducted a cruise missile strike against the Syrian Air Force.

Syrian state television says the country's air defenses shot down missiles targeting its Shayrat airfield late on April 16.

The report did not indicate who might have fired the missiles over the Homs region, which Syrian state television called an act of "aggression."

However hours later the Syrian state broadcaster carried a statement from the military saying that the missiles were fired because of a "false alarm."

Reuters quoted Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon as saying that "there is no U.S. military activity in that area at this time."

"We do not have additional details to provide," Pahon said.

The United States, Britain, and France launched more than 100 missiles in Syria on April 14, targeting three alleged chemical weapons facilities in an operation that Syria and its key ally, Russia, denounced as aggression on a sovereign state.

The air strikes came in response to a suspected gas attack in Douma, outside Damascus, earlier this month in which the World Health Organization has said 43 people who died suffered "symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals."

Israel has previously carried out air strikes during the conflict in Syria, targeting Iran-backed militias fighting alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Following reports of the missile strikes on April 16, the Israeli military declined to comment.

"We don't comment on such reports," Reuters quoted a spokesman for the Israeli military as saying.

The United States last year targeted the Shayrat airbase with cruise missiles in response to a sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun.

Syria denied it was responsible for the attack, which killed at least 80 people.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa