Israeli Airstrikes Target Syria Military Base, Missiles

Friday, 01 Nov 2013 07:57 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Israel is being blamed for airstrikes Wednesday night that destroyed a Syrian air defense base, targeting missiles believed to be headed for Hezbollah militants.

Multiple Syrian and Lebanese sources told CBS News that the airstrikes hit a base in the coastal city of Latakia, near Damascus. Sources told CBS News the strikes came from the Mediterranean. 

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The Latakia community supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Israel has said publicly that it would not allow the Assad regime to transfer rockets to its allied Shia militia Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, which could be used to target Israel.

The cause of the explosions were not clear initially, the BBC News reported. Israeli and Syrian officials have not commented on the incident as of Friday. Assad had threatened in the media earlier this year to respond to any Israeli strikes.

"Several explosions were heard in an air defense base in the Snubar Jableh area," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based activist network, told BBC News.

Israel launched airstrikes on shipments of missiles inside Syria earlier this year. In May, Israel was behind a strike that destroyed a Syrian weapons warehouse where Iranian missiles allegedly being kept for Hezbollah. It is believed that Hezbollah militants are fighting with Assad's soldiers in the Syrian war.

Airstrikes can potentially threaten a Russia-U.S. deal with the Syrian government in regards to chemical weapons. Russia has been a strong backer of the Syrian government and its involvement is seen as the lynchpin in possible peace talks.

Reports of the strike came as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons reported that all Syria's declared equipment for making chemical weapons had been destroyed.

The Syrian government earlier denied it had used chemical weapons in civilian areas controlled by militants. The U.S. and France were on the verge of military action against Syria because of the use of those weapons.

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