U.S. officials have confirmed that Israel struck Syrian coastal missile sites late Wednesday, reports CNN.
The site allegedly contained Russian-made surface to air missile systems said to be slated for delivery to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The strikes took out SA-8 anti-aircraft missiles, The Times of Israel reports. The SA-8 system is a truck-mounted, and highly mobile, but with low-altitude and short range capabilities.
The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post, citing satellite images obtained by Channel 2, reports that Russian-made Neva S-125 surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles and SA-3 missile battery — which also includes a command center with radar and antennas to track the missiles and their targets — were seen in the Latakia area.
S-125 missiles have an operational range of up to 9 miles and are equipped to take out small aircraft at a low to medium altitude. They were a favourite of Egyptians in the Yom Kipper War, and of Iraqis during the first Gulf War, The Times notes.
The Times of Israel cited Twitter users who said the blast occurred near Snobar Jableh, just south of Latakia.
The pro-regime Syrian news outlet Dam Press reported that the site was heavily damaged but there were no injuries.
Arutz Sheva sources in Syria and Lebanon blamed Israel for the strike.
The Lebanese government news agency reported that six Israeli aircraft flew through Lebanese airspace along the coast north of Beirut on Wednesday.
The Twitter user @RamiAlLolah first reported that a strike had occurred, saying a missile from the sea was seen hitting the facility and noting Israeli jets had entered Lebanese airspace earlier in the day.
“During the night, we noticed much aircraft activity,” an eyewitness told a Lebanese Al-Mustaqbal news outlet. “At a certain point, we were woken up by the sound of blasts and we saw a large fire and many explosions at the agricultural institute. Military and security forces arrived at the scene, put out the flames, and closed off the entire area for kilometers.”
Israel has been suspected of bombing missile shipments suspected of reaching the Iranian proxy group Hezbollah in Lebanon at least five times since January.
Here’s a map of the entire region. The (A) indicates the port of Tartous, which is the site of Russia’s only remaining international military base outside of the former Soviet Union.
The strikes come after the bottom fell out of a deal for Russia to upgrade Syria to S300 surface-to-air missiles, a long-range, high-altitude version capable of taking out a civilian airliner.
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