Last updated: 31 October, 2013

Israel hits Syrian air base

Israel has hit a Syrian air base in the northern province of Latakia, targeting a shipment of surface-to-surface missiles destined for Lebanon’s Shiite movement Hezbollah, Al-Arabiya television reported Thursday.

A US official confirmed to AFP that “there was an Israeli strike” but gave no detail on the location or the target.

“Historically targets have been missiles transferred to Hezbollah,” allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the official said.

Citing unnamed “exclusive sources” Dubai-based pan-Arab Al-Arabiya said on its website: “Israel was behind a series of explosions that rocked a Syrian air base in the northern Latakia province.”

“The bombing targeted a shipment of surface-to-air missiles (SAM) that was headed for Hezbollah in Lebanon,” the report said.

Israeli media carried similar reports quoting Al-Arabiya, which is Saudi owned.

Israeli government officials contacted by AFP refused to comment on the reports.

Meanwhile, Israeli news website Ynet quoted Lebanon’s MTV, which it said cited unnamed sources in Jerusalem as saying Turkey was behind the Latakia attack, in revenge for the recent shooting down of a Turkish plane in the same area.

But CNN cited an unnamed US administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying Israeli warplanes carried out the attack.

CNN quoted the official as saying the target was missiles and related equipment the Israelis felt might be transferred to Hezbollah.

Al-Arabiya quoted the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying that explosions took place Wednesday near Latakia.

“Several explosions were heard in an air defence base in the Snubar Jableh area,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

In May, Israel carried out two air strikes inside Syria, and a senior Israeli official told AFP both targets were Iranian weapons destined for Hezbollah.