Israeli missile strikes have attacked the port of Latakia twice in the last month, according to the Syrian government, including one on Tuesday that caused a massive fire at the port’s container terminal. Israel frequently conducts airstrikes in the face of Iranian and Iranian-aligned activities in Syria. Iran provides military aid directly to the Syrian government and also to its Shiite rebel group Hezbollah that fights alongside Syrian government forces during the 10 years-long civil war.
For Israel shipping arms to its arch-enemy, Hezbollah is a red line. It is known that the Israeli military has been quietly targeting Iranian weapons and Hezbollah’s activities within Syria for a long time, carrying out hundreds of airstrikes inside Syria’s boundaries.
Israel has not yet acknowledged that it was responsible for the strike on Tuesday. In a statement made in a visit at an airbase for the military on Tuesday Defence Minister Benny Gantz said that “Israel will not allow Iran to stream game-changing weapons to its proxies and to threaten our citizens.”
As reported by Syrian news media outlets, the strikes struck the terminal around 0320 hours on Tuesday. The second explosion was huge and was heard for miles, Syrian officials said, and the resulting flame lasted for many hours.
The video posted by a witness on social media seems to depict multiple blasts as well as an enormous conflagration in the container storage depot.
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A number of Open-source Intelligence analysts noticed that an Iranian-flagged container vessel called The Shiba was spotted in Latakia in the course of a trip from Bandar Abbas on December 24. The airstrike that hit the depot could be targeting unloaded boxes that contained military-related equipment.