Syrian air defenses have shot down several Israeli missiles during pre-dawn raids in the Mediterranean port city of Latakia, the Syrian army said on Wednesday, a rare attack on the region of the Syrian leader’s ancestral home and near a Russian air base.
A statement from the Syrian army said air strikes had hit several areas along the south-west coast of Latakia shortly after 2am. One civilian was killed and six were injured in one of the strikes, which the army said had hit a civilian plastics factory in the city of Latakia.
Earlier, state media reported that the Israeli attack also hit the city of Hifa, east of the port city of Latakia, and Misyaf in Hama province.
The Israeli military did not comment immediately.
Although Israeli strikes in the past few years have targeted many parts of Syria, they have rarely hit Latakia, which is close to Russia’s main air base, Hmeimim.
A senior military deserter says the Israeli raid has hit several areas in the city of Jabla in the northwestern province of Latakia, a bastion of the minority Alawite sect of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which dominates the army and security forces.
Assad comes from Kerdaha, a village in the Alawit Mountains 28km southeast of Latakia, where his father, the late President Hafez al-Assad, is buried.
In recent months, Israel has escalated a so-called “shadow war” against Iranian-related targets in Syria, according to Western intelligence sources, who say the strikes are aimed primarily at weapons research centers, ammunition depots and military convoys moving missiles. from Syria to Lebanon.
Iranian-led militias, led by Lebanese Hezbollah, now rule vast areas in eastern, southern and northwestern Syria, as well as several suburbs around Damascus. They also control the Lebanese-Syrian border areas.
Israel has said its goal is to end Tehran’s military presence in Syria, which Western intelligence sources say has expanded in recent years.
Last week, Israel sent senior delegates to Washington to discuss Iran with US counterparts. The White House said the allies agreed on the “significant threat posed by Iran’s regional behavior.” Read more
Israel has stepped up its warnings against what it would consider a bad new nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, saying the war with Tehran would surely follow. Read more
Iran’s indirect talks with US envoys in Vienna appear to have been overshadowed by reciprocal sabotage attacks on Israeli and Iranian ships, as well as an explosion at Iran’s Natanz concentrator, which Tehran blamed on Israel.
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