BEIRUT (AFP) – An Israeli air strike hit Syria’s Latakia port before dawn on Tuesday, sparking a fire that lit up the Mediterranean seafront in the second such attack on the key cargo hub this month, Syrian state media reported.
Since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war in 2011, Israel has routinely carried out air strikes on its strife-torn neighbour, mostly targetting Syrian government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters.
But it is only the second time it has hit the port of Latakia, in the heartland of President Bashar al-Assad’s minority Alawite community.
“At 3.21am, the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial aggression with several missiles from the direction of the Mediterranean… targetting the container yard in Latakia port,” Syrian state news agency SANA cited a military source as saying.
The strike caused “significant material damage”, it added.
Asked about the strike, an Israeli army spokesman said: “We don’t comment on reports in foreign media”. Pictures released by SANA showed firefighters training hoses on stacks of blazing containers that lit up the night sky. The news agency said the containers were carrying “engine oil and spare parts for cars and other vehicles”.
But Britain-based war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the cargo was “arms and munitions”, which had detonated in “powerful explosions that were felt across the city of Latakia and its suburbs”.