One killed in Israeli attack on Syria’s Latakia, state media says

SANA said 6 others were wounded and a civilian plastics factory was hit during the pre-dawn attack in northwest Syria.

Israel has escalated in recent months a so-called 'shadow war' against Iranian-linked targets inside Syria [File: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo]

Syrian air defences have intercepted an Israeli attack on several areas in northwest Syria, including the port city of Latakia along the Mediterranean coast, killing one person and wounding six, Syrian state media said.

The Israeli dawn attack on Wednesday also hit the town of Hifa, east of Latakia, and Masyaf in Hama province.

An unnamed military source was quoted by SANA news agency as saying that the attack took place at 2:18am targeting southwest Latakia and other “coastal areas”.

“Our air defense units confronted the aggression’s missiles and dropped some of them,” he said.

Earlier, state media had reported explosions near Latakia, which were heard by residents across the city and its outskirts.

According to state media reports, a civilian plastics factory was hit in Latakia city, causing material damage.

Those wounded in the attack were all civilians, and among them was a woman and her son, SANA reported.

Latakia is a Syrian government stronghold and is the ancestral home of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Israeli military did not immediately comment. Israel has launched hundreds of attacks against what it calls Iran-linked military targets in Syria over the years but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.

It was the first Israeli attack on Syria since a missile fired by Damascus struck deep inside Israel two weeks ago. The missile landed in southern Israel on April 22, prompting Israel to respond with airstrikes on the missile launcher and other targets in Syria.

Iran has been a key ally of al-Assad’s government throughout the civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and erupted after the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

Al-Assad’s government has never publicly acknowledged there are Iranian forces operating on its behalf in Syria’s civil war.

Israel has escalated in recent months a so-called “shadow war” against Iranian-linked targets inside Syria, according to Western intelligence sources, who say the raids are mainly aimed at research centres for weapons development and military convoys moving missiles from Lebanon to Syria.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the Israeli attacks in Syria have already killed dozens of government and allied fighters in recent months.

In February, Syria’s army said the country’s air defences intercepted “Israeli aggression” over Damascus. The attacks killed at least nine pro-government fighters, a Britain-based war monitor said at the time.

An attack by Israeli forces on several areas in Syria in January left 10 Syrian soldiers and at least 47 allied fighters dead.

Iran’s proxy militias led by Lebanon’s Hezbollah now hold sway over vast areas in eastern, southern and northwestern Syria, as well as several suburbs around Damascus.

They also control 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.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies