Second Israeli Strike on Latakia Port This Month, Syria Reports Major Damage

According to reports in Syria, Israeli fighter jets attacked the container complex at the port with missiles, in the second attack on the vital facility this month

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Syria's Latakia port in flames on Tuesday.
Syria's Latakia port in flames on Tuesday.
Jack Khoury

Fires erupted in Syria's Latakia Port's container storage area following an Israeli missile attack, Syrian state media reported early Tuesday morning.

The attack, the second in this month, damaged facades of a hospital, some residential buildings and shops. A Syrian army official told state TV that the Israeli missiles were launched from the sea, west of Latakia.

"The Israeli "aggression" caused big materialistic damages and assessing its results is still a work in progress", the Syrian defense ministry said in a statement.

The commander of the fire brigade at Latakia, Mohannad Jaafar, said the attack targeted a commercial compound storing tankers of oil and spare parts for machines and vehicles, reported the Syrian news agency.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from the missile attacks, which activated Syrian air defenses, according to state TV.

Also on Tuesday morning, a loud blast was heard in Damascus as the Syrian army blew up ammunitions seized from insurgents, in a controlled explosion in the suburb of Douma, state TV said.

The Syrian army announced in 2018 that it had taken back full control of all areas around Damascus after seven years of civil war that first erupted with protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

An Israeli attack on the port was also reported in Syria three weeks ago. According to Syria's state-run Al-Ikhbariyah TV, Tuesday's attack was bigger, and explosions were heard in the coastal city of Tartus—about 80 km south of Latakia.

The attack also marks a rare targeting of the port handling most imports for Syria, which has been ravaged by a decade-old civil war and western-imposed sanctions.

Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces including Lebanon's Hezbollah have deployed over the last decade to support President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's war.

Live footage aired by Syrian state TV showed flames and smoke in the containers' area. 

"Fire fighters are trying to put the fires off while ambulances arrived at the scene," the state TV reporter said.

Latakia, Syria's main commercial port, brings in a considerable amount of cargo from Iran, a source familiar with port operations said. According to an opposition war monitor, the attack earlier this month targeted a weapons shipment meant for Iranian militias in the country.

Russia, which has been Assad's most powerful ally during the war, operates an air base at Hmeimim some 20 km (12 miles) away from Latakia.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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