Israel carried out air strikes in Syria, according to a U.S. official who asked not to be identified discussing security matters.
Israeli warplanes struck a Syrian base near the Mediterranean port of Latakia, targeting missiles that were earmarked for the Hezbollah militant group, according to reports by CNN and Al-Arabiya television.
Arabiya said Israel carried out another attack around Damascus late yesterday, without saying where it got the information. Israeli officials declined to comment and the U.S. official didn’t provide additional details.
It was at least the fifth report of Israeli strikes on Syrian targets this year, none of which were confirmed by the Jewish state. Syria has issued threats of retaliation after previous incidents, without carrying them out. President Bashar al-Assad’s ability to do so is constrained because he’s battling rebel militias in a 2 1/2-year civil war that has left more than 100,000 dead.
The Associated Press reported that the attack near Latakia was aimed at destroying Russian-made missiles.
Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based Shiite movement considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union, has fought alongside Assad’s army in the civil war. The group emerged in the 1980s in resistance to Israel’s occupation of south Lebanon. Hezbollah has repeatedly fought with the Jewish state, including a monthlong war in 2006, though there have been few clashes in recent years.
“We have a practice of not commenting on these kinds of incidents when they arrive,” Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said in a phone interview.
Israel carried out air strikes in Syria in January, May and July this year, according to reports that said the targets in each case were weapons bound for Hezbollah.
The New York Times reported on Aug. 1, citing U.S. officials, that Israeli intelligence concluded the July attack near Latakia failed to destroy the whole of the shipment of Russian-made anti-ship missiles that it had targeted, making further strikes likely.
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