US Officials: Israel Attacked Syrian Port, Targeted Russian Missiles
July 14, 2013
U.S. officials say Israeli warplanes struck the Syrian port of Latakia earlier this month, targeting a delivery of Russian anti-ship missiles in what would be Israel's fourth such operation in Syria this year.
The officials told CNN and The New York Times that Israel attacked the cache of Yakhont missiles on July 5 because it feared they could threaten Israeli naval forces.
Regional media reported large explosions in Latakia on that date, but it remained unclear who was responsible. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the incident.
Last week, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon reiterated Israel's vow to stay out of the Syrian civil war. He also repeated Israel's pledge to enforce self-proclaimed 'red lines' against attempts by Syrian leaders to provide sophisticated weapons to their Lebanese militant allies, Hezbollah.
Israel fought a month-long war with Hezbollah in 2006.
U.S. media have said Israel attacked Syria once in January and twice in May in a bid to destroy Russian and Iranian-supplied weapons suspected of being destined for Hezbollah. Israel also has refused to confirm or deny responsibility for those attacks.
In another development, Syrian opposition groups said fighting between government and rebel forces in the Damascus suburb of Qaboun has left hundreds of civilians trapped in a mosque.
The main opposition Syrian National Coalition appealed to the international community to take action to free the people inside the mosque and protect them from government troops who have been fighting to regain control of rebellious Damascus suburbs for months.
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