Syrian air defenses lowered several Israeli missiles during raids before dawn on the Mediterranean port city of Latakia, the Syrian army said on Wednesday, a rare attack on the Syrian leader’s ancestral home region and close to a Russian air base.
A statement from the Syrian army said airstrikes shortly after 2am hit several areas along Latakia̵
“Our air force intercepted the attacking missiles and lowered some of them,” the army said.
State media previously reported that the Israeli attack also hit the city of Hifa east of the port city of Latakia and Misyaf in Hama province.
The Israeli military did not immediately comment.
Although Israeli strikes over the past few years have targeted many parts of Syria, they have rarely hit Latakia, which is close to Russia’s main airbase, Hmeimim.
A senior military defector said the Israeli attack hit several areas in the northwestern province of Latakia, a bastion of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s minority Slavic army that dominates the army and security forces.
Assad comes from Qerdaha, a village in the Alawite Mountains 28 km southeast of Latakia, where his father, the late President Hafez al-Assad, is buried.
Israel has in recent months escalated a so-called “shadow war” against Iranian-linked targets in Syria, according to Western intelligence sources, who say the strikes are mainly aimed at research centers for weapons development, ammunition depots and military convoys moving missiles from Syria to Lebanon.
Iran’s proxy militias led by Lebanon’s Hezbollah now control large areas of 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.
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Israel has intensified its warnings against what it will consider a bad new nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers, saying that war with Tehran will certainly follow. Read more
Iran’s indirect talks with US envoys in Vienna have been overshadowed by what appeared to be mutual sabotage attacks on Israeli and Iranian ships, as well as an explosion at Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility, which Tehran accused Israel of.
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