Alleged Israeli airstrike hits Latakia Port for second time in a month

This is the third alleged Israeli airstrike on Syria this month.

 A Firefighter douses flames after Syrian state media reported an alleged Israeli missile attack in a container storage area, at Syrian port of Latakia, Syria (photo credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
A Firefighter douses flames after Syrian state media reported an alleged Israeli missile attack in a container storage area, at Syrian port of Latakia, Syria
(photo credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

An alleged Israeli airstrike targeted the commercial port in Latakia in northwestern Syria for the second time in a month early Tuesday morning, according to Syrian state news agency SANA.

This is the second alleged Israeli airstrike on the Latakia Port this month and the third alleged Israeli airstrike on Syria, in general, this month.

A Syrian military source told SANA that the strike was carried out from over the Mediterranean Sea and targeted the port's container yard, sparking large fires and causing massive damage. Firefighters reported that they had brought the fire under control about seven hours later, although the fire continued to burn for hours afterwards.

Videos reportedly from the scene showed large explosions that could be seen from a distance lighting up the night sky. According to SANA, a nearby hospital and a number of other buildings and shops were also damaged due to the airstrike.

Smoke rises from a fire in a container storage area, after Syrian state media reported an Israeli air strike on the port of Latakia on December 7. (credit: SANA/REUTERS)Smoke rises from a fire in a container storage area, after Syrian state media reported an Israeli air strike on the port of Latakia on December 7. (credit: SANA/REUTERS)

Syria's Alikhbariya TV news reported the strikes were much larger than those that hit the port earlier this month, with explosions heard in Tartus, over 44 miles (70 km.) from Latakia. The report added that while ambulances were present at the scene, there was no information on any casualties.

The Iranian ship SHIBA was docked at the Latakia port last week before leaving on Saturday. It is unclear if containers unloaded by the ship at the port were the targets of the Israeli airstrike on Tuesday morning. According to independent tracking sites, in late November an Iranian vessel called DAISY docked at Latakia just days before the strike on the port on December 7.

The Muslim Brotherhood published a statement concerning the airstrikes on Tuesday afternoon, saying the movement would "continue to adhere to the sanctity of our people, land, sea and air against all forms of Zionist, Russian and Iranian aggression."

The movement ridiculed the Assad government for failing to respond to the repeated alleged Israeli airstrikes on Syrian territory, calling it "those who have still reserved the right to respond for half a century, under the weight of the Zionist slaps day and night."

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

Syrian social media users expressed outrage on Tuesday that Russia did not activate air defense systems to counter the alleged Israeli airstrikes. An article on Al-Mayadeen TV about the airstrikes also questioned why the Russian forces did not respond to the airstrikes.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday evening that Syrian air defenses were not activated during the air strikes due to the fact that a Russian military transport aircraft was landing at the Khmeimim Air Base.

The Russian Defense Ministry additionally claimed that the strikes caused "minor material damage" to the port and that there were no casualties among Syrian forces.

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

Two weeks ago, a Syrian soldier was killed in another alleged Israeli airstrike targeting sites in southern Syria. Independent reports and satellite imagery indicated that the airstrike two weeks ago targeted a runway at the Damascus International Airport and an air defense radar station in southern Syria.