An Obama administration official who remained anonymous told CNN on October 31 that a large explosion the night before at a military base near the village of Snawbar, Syria, 10 miles south of the Mediterranean port city of Latakia, was the result of an attack by Israeli warplanes. The base reportedly housed Russian-made S-125 surface-to-air missiles.
The official cited by CNN said that the attack targeted missiles and related equipment the Israelis “felt” might be transferred to Hezbollah — the Islamic military and political organization based in Lebanon. Hezbollah has sided with the Assad government in the Syrian civil war.
An AFP report carried by the Christian Science Monitor said that the Israeli government has declined comment on its suspected role in the attack. AFP noted that after an early-July Israeli attack on another base north of Latakia, it was learned that the targeted supply of Russian-made P-800 Onik (also known as Onyx or Yakhont) anti-ship cruise missiles had not been destroyed by the strike. This raised speculation that a follow-up strike would occur. Israel regards the P-800 missiles as a threat to its naval vessels.
AFB cited a post on the Latakia News Network, a Facebook page that supports the Assad government, that said the base had been struck by a missile fired from the sea that had caused “limited casualties and damage.”
If it is confirmed that Israel was responsible for the explosion at the Snawbar base, it would be the fifth such attack since January. AFP reports that previous Israeli air strikes reportedly targeted SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, Iranian-manufactured Fateh 110 surface-to-surface missiles, and military bases belonging to the Syrian army’s 4th Armored Division.
Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper observed in a report that the leak from the Obama administration official to CNN indicated a deep divide between Washington and Jerusalem.
“Officials in Washington say that the timing of the strike was not good, to say the least, because yesterday Assad had kept his commitment and enabled the chemical weapons installations to be dismantled,” said the report, which was quoted by the Australian.
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