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Apr 27, 2:16 AM EDT

A large explosion has rocked the Syrian capital, followed by a fire near the Damascus airport, Syrian opposition activists and a monitor say


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A large explosion has rocked the Syrian capital, followed by a fire near the Damascus airport, Syrian opposition activists and a monitor say

France's foreign minister says chemical analysis of samples taken from a deadly sarin gas attack in Syria shows that the nerve agent used "bears the signature" of President Bashar Assad's government and shows it was responsible

Syrian opposition activists and a monitor say a large explosion has rocked the Syrian capital, followed by a fire near Damascus airport

Russia has criticized Turkey's airstrikes against Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq, saying they hinder efforts to combat the Islamic State group

Syrian activists say eight family members, including five children, have been killed in an airstrike apparently carried out by the U.S.-led coalition as they fled the Islamic State-held town of Tabqa

BEIRUT (AP) -- A large explosion rocked the Syrian capital early Thursday, followed by a fire near the Damascus airport, Syrian opposition activists and a monitor said.

The explosion was heard across the capital, jolting residents awake, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdurrahman said. He said the explosion was reported to have happened near the Damascus airport road.

The dawn explosion was also reported by other activists' networks but the source was unclear.

Activist-operated Diary of a Mortar, which reports from Damascus, said the explosion near the airport road was followed by flames rising above the area. A pro-government site Damascus Now said the explosion was near the city's Seventh Bridge, which leads to the airport road.

Syria is in the sixth year of a bloody civil war pitting the government of President Bashar Assad and his allies against opposition forces that has left more than 400,000 people dead.

The explosion comes a day after France said that the chemical analysis of samples taken from a deadly sarin gas attack in Syria earlier this month "bears the signature" Assad's government and shows it was responsible.

Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said France came to this conclusion after comparing samples from a 2013 sarin attack in Syria that matched the new ones. The findings came in a six-page report published Wednesday.

Russia, a close ally of Assad, denounced the report, saying the samples and the fact the nerve agent was used are not enough to prove who was behind it.

The United States has also blamed Assad's government for the April 4 attack. The Trump administration ordered the cruise missile attack on the air base and issued sanctions on 271 people linked to the Syrian agency said to be responsible for producing non-conventional weapons. Syria has strongly denied the accusations.

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