Israeli jets strike Russian missiles near Syrian city of Latakia: US officials

Israeli jets strike Russian missiles near Syrian city of Latakia: US officials
Fri Nov 1, 2013 08:38:03

Israeli warplanes have attacked a shipment of Russian missiles inside a Syrian government stronghold, US officials has said, a development that threatened to add another explosive layer to regional tensions from the war in Syria.

CNN quoted an unidentified US administration official as saying Israeli warplanes struck a base near the port of Latakia on Thursday, targeting missiles that Israel claimed might be transferred to Lebanon’s resistance group Hezbollah.

An Obama administration official confirmed to AP the Israeli airstrike overnight, but provided no details. Another security official said the attack occurred late Wednesday in Latakia and that the target was Russian-made SA-125 missiles.

A US official confirmed to AFP that “there was an Israeli strike” but gave no detail on the location or the target.

“Historically targets have been missiles transferred to Hezbollah,” allied with Syrian President Bashar Assad, the official said.

One Syrian opposition source, a defector from air force intelligence with contacts in the Latakia region, said Israel struck a strategic missile battery near a village called Ain Shikak where Assad’s forces kept long-range Russian missiles that are among their most powerful weapons.

“We’re not commenting on these reports,” an Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman said. The government has not commented publicly on at least three attacks on Syria earlier this year.

One Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he thought that Israel had indeed carried out such a strike, but stressed that he was not entirely certain.

Israel has carried out similar attacks against Syrian targets in the past.

The Britain-based opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said late Wednesday that several explosions were heard at an air defense base near Jableh, south of Latakia.

Observatory director Rami Abdel-Rahman said the cause of the explosions was “unclear” and that no casualties had been reported.

A Syrian security source meanwhile told AFP that “a rocket fell near the base, causing a fire to break out.”

The Lebanese military said six Israeli jets had flown over Lebanese territory Wednesday. Israeli aerial incursions over Lebanon are frequent, but such high numbers have in the past sometimes been an indication of military strikes against Syria.

Israel struck Syrian targets near Damascus in January and twice in May and was suspected of being behind the destruction of a naval installation near Latakia in July.


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