Alleged Israeli airstrike targets Latakia port in Syria - report

Photos reportedly from the scene showed what appeared to be a fire that had broken out at the port due to the alleged airstrikes.

Missile fire is seen from Damascus, Syria May 10, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/OMAR SANADIKI)
Missile fire is seen from Damascus, Syria May 10, 2018.

Syrian air defenses responded to an alleged Israeli airstrike targeting the Latakia port in northwestern Syria on Monday night, according to the Syrian state news agency SANA.

Photos reportedly from the scene showed what appeared to be a fire that had broken out at the port amid shipping containers due to the alleged airstrikes.

In video reportedly showing the fire, explosions could be heard in the background.

Syrian state media later reported that the fire had been extinguished.

A military source told SANA that Israeli aircraft fired several missiles from the direction of the Mediterranean towards the container yard at the commercial port in Latakia. A number of shipping containers caught on fire due to the airstrike and no casualties were caused, according to SANA.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday appeared to hint at Israel's involvement in the strike, saying during a meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis that "We are repelling the evil forces of this area—day and night. We will not stop for one second. It happens almost every day. In the face of destructive forces, we will continue to act, we will persevere and not get tired."

"We recognize threats in our complex region, which cause common concern: concern for the climate issue, concern for the health and livelihoods of our people, and concern for our security against terrorism. At the same time, we strengthen ties with our friends, in all areas," Bennett added.

Walla reported on Tuesday that senior Israeli military officials claimed that Israel has successfully destroyed 75% of Iran's weapons in Syria and achieved a maximum level of deterrence against Iranian forces in Syria as well as the Assad regime.

Israeli airstrikes which have targeted Syria have targeted a variety of equipment intended for pro-Iranian militias, including drones, rockets, missiles, infrastructure for manufacturing weapons and components of air defense systems, Walla added.

The Latakia area is a stronghold for Russian forces in Syria, with the Russian Khmeimim Air Base located near Latakia.

In 2018, 14 Russian soldiers were killed when a Russian military aircraft was downed by a Syrian air defense missile during alleged Israeli airstrikes near Latakia. Russia expressed outrage at Israel at the time, largely blaming it for the incident.

Earlier this week, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad warned that Israel would respond to Israeli airstrikes against Syria, saying that such attacks "could not go unanswered."

The last alleged Israeli airstrike which targeted sites in Syria was reported about two weeks ago, when at least four people were killed in strikes targeting sites belonging to Hezbollah in the Homs Governorate in western Syria.

A number of additional airstrikes blamed on Israel targeted Syria throughout November.

Over the past year, while Israeli strikes have intensified in Syria, the response time by Syrian air defense batteries has become quicker, leading the Israel Air Force to change how it acts during such operations – including by having larger formations so that more targets can be struck at once during an operation instead of having jets return to the same target.

Iran has begun deploying advanced anti-aircraft missile batteries to the region in an attempt to challenge Israeli jets.

Anna Ahronheim and Reuters contributed to this report.