Syria's Latakia port hit by second Israeli attack in a month

Major damage caused by fires after missiles hit container terminal, state media says

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An Israeli air strike hit Syria's Latakia port before sunrise on Tuesday, causing a fire that lit up the Mediterranean seafront, Syrian state media reported.

It is the second attack this month on Latakia port, which handles most imports for Syria.

The country has been ravaged by a 10-year civil war and sanctions imposed by the West.

Since the outbreak of civil war in 2011, Israel has routinely carried out air strikes on its strife-torn neighbour, targeting Syrian government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters.

But it is only the second time it has hit the port of Latakia, in the heartland of President Bashar Al Assad's minority Alawite community.

Syrian state news agency Sana quoted a military official as saying that Israeli missiles hit the port’s container terminal, igniting fires that caused major damage. The unidentified official said firefighters were battling the flames for nearly an hour after the attack.

“At around 3.21am, the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial aggression with several missiles from the direction of the Mediterranean … targeting the container yard in Latakia port,” a military source told Sana.

There were no reports of casualties from the missile attacks, which activated Syrian air defences, according to Sana.

The strike caused “significant material damage” and fires, it said.

Asked about the strike, an Israeli army spokesman said: “We don't comment on reports in foreign media.”

Firefighters at the scene of a missile attack at the port in the coastal city of Latakia, Syria. AP

Pictures released by Sana showed firefighters training hoses on stacks of blazing containers that lit up the night sky.

The news agency said the containers held “engine oil and spare parts for cars and other vehicles".

But Britain-based war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the cargo was “arms and munitions, probably from Iran”, which detonated in “powerful explosions that were felt across the city of Latakia and its suburbs".

Updated: December 28, 2021, 12:20 PM