Israel Strikes Russian Weapons Shipment in Syria

BEIRUT (AP) —

Israeli warplanes attacked a shipment of Russian missiles inside a Syrian government stronghold, officials said Thursday.

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

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the attack publicly. There was no immediate confirmation from Syria.

Since the civil war in Syria erupted in March 2011, Israel has carefully avoided taking sides but has struck shipments of missiles inside Syria at least twice this year.

The Syrian military, overstretched by the civil war, has not retaliated, and it was not clear whether the embattled Syrian leader would choose to take action this time. Assad may decide again to let the Israeli attack slide, particularly when his army has the upper hand on the battlefield inside Syria.

Israel has repeatedly declared a series of red lines that could trigger Israeli military intervention, including the delivery of “game-changing” weapons to the Syrian-backed Lebanese Hizbullah group.

Israel has never officially confirmed taking action inside Syria to avoid embarrassing Assad and sparking a potential response. But foreign officials say it has done so several times when Israeli intelligence determined that sophisticated missiles were on the move.

In January, an Israeli airstrike in Syria destroyed a shipment of advanced anti-aircraft missiles bound for Hizbullah, according to U.S. officials. And in May, it was said to have acted again, taking out a shipment of Iranian-made Fateh-110 missiles at a Damascus airport.

The Fateh-110s have advanced guidance systems that enable them to travel up to 200 miles (300 kilometers) per hour with great precision. Their solid-fuel propellant allows them to be launched at short notice, making them hard to detect and neutralize.

Israel has identified several other weapons systems as game-changers, including chemical weapons, Russian-made Yakhont missiles, which can be fired from land and destroy ships at sea, and Russian SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles. Israel’s January airstrike is believed to have destroyed a shipment of SA-17s.

Syrian activists and opposition groups reported strong explosions Wednesday night that appeared to come from inside an air defense facility in Latakia. They said the cause of the blasts was not known.

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!

Hamodia Logo