DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Israeli warplanes fired missiles that struck the port of Latakia early on Tuesday, hitting containers and igniting a huge fire, Syrian state media said.
It was a rare attack on the city's port, a vital facility where much of Syria's imports are brought into the war-torn country.
Syria’s state media quoted an unnamed military official as saying that several missiles struck the containers area in the port, setting some of them on fire. There were no casualties from the airstrike, according to the official, who gave no further details.
Syrian state TV reported that five explosions were heard in the port. A huge fire erupted in the containers area, and fire engines rushed to the port.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitoring group, said the airstrike hit arms shipments for Iran-backed fighters. It added that the explosions at the facility were very strong and caused heavy material damage.
There was no comment from the Israeli military, which has conducted hundreds of airstrikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of Syria over the course of its 10 year civil war, but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.
Some of the strikes in the past had targeted the main airport in the Syrian capital, Damascus.
Israel has acknowledged, however, that it targets the bases of Iran-allied militias, such as Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group that has fighters deployed in Syria. It says it attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for the militias.
At a meeting in Jerusalem on Tuesday with the leaders of Cyprus and Greece, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett alluded to Israel's covert actions against its enemies.
“We’re pushing back on the bad forces of this region, day and night. We won’t stop for one second. This happens almost daily. In the face of destructive forces, we will continue to act, we will be persistent and we will not tire," he said.
Hezbollah is fighting on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in the war, which started after a military crackdown on Arab Spring-inspired protests calling for his ouster.
Israel says Iranian presence on its northern frontier is a red line, justifying its strikes on facilities and weapons inside Syria.