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Satellite images show smoldering wreckage at Syria port after alleged Israeli strike

Photos suggest fire caused by high-precision strike on Latakia that appeared to hit single container; Tuesday attack was 2nd time Israel reportedly targeted the key cargo hub

This satellite photograph taken by Planet Labs PBC show the smoldering wreckage after an alleged Israeli strike on the port at Latakia, Syria,  Dec. 29, 2021 (Planet Labs PBC via AP)
This satellite photograph taken by Planet Labs PBC show the smoldering wreckage after an alleged Israeli strike on the port at Latakia, Syria, Dec. 29, 2021 (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

Satellite images taken this week over the Syrian port of Latakia show the smoldering wreckage after an alleged Israeli missile strike, hours after firefighters contained a massive blaze.

The images suggest the fire was caused by a high precision strike on Tuesday that appeared to hit only one container.

Satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press from Planet Labs PBC Thursday showed heavy smog over the container terminal on Wednesday, likely from the struck container still smoking.

The Latakia seaport handles most of the imports to Syria, a country ravaged by a decade-old civil war and Western-imposed sanctions.

The predawn strike marked the second time Israel has allegedly hit the key cargo hub in a month. The attack caused significant damage with stacks of containers catching fire.

The blast damaged a nearby hospital and offices, and also shattered windows of residential buildings and cars parked in the area near the port. The explosion could be heard miles away.

This satellite photograph taken by Planet Labs PBC show the smoldering wreckage after an alleged Israeli strike on the port at Latakia, Syria, Dec. 29, 2021 (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

A Syrian military official alleged Israeli missiles were fired from the sea, west of Latakia, hitting the terminal and igniting fires.

Maj. Mohannad Jafaar, head of the Latakia fire department, said 12 fire trucks worked for hours to contain the blaze.

He said the containers that were hit held spare auto parts and oil but there were no casualties.

However, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition-linked monitoring group with questionable funding, said the cargo was “arms and munitions” and that at least two members of a pro-government militia were killed. Three other militia fighters were also allegedly wounded.

It was the second alleged Israeli strike in a month on the key facility — Syrian media reported Israeli warplanes hit the container terminal at Latakia on December 7, also igniting a major fire.

For years, Israel avoided conducting strikes against the Latakia port due to the large presence of Russian forces nearby, though Israel believes that this well-known policy has led Iran to seek to protect its arms transfers to its proxies in the region, notably the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, by conducting them near Russian-controlled areas.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, flames rise from containers at the scene of missiles attack, at the seaport of the coastal city of Latakia, Syria, early Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021. (SANA via AP)

Since the start of the conflict in Syria, Israel has routinely carried out airstrikes on its strife-torn neighbor, targeting Syrian government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters.

The strikes are generally believed to be part of the wider Israeli effort to prevent its foe Iran from gaining a foothold on its doorstep.

While the Israeli military has declined to specifically comment on the reported strikes in Syria, in a year-end statement issued by the military, IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi this week boasted of success in disrupting weapons shipments to Israel’s enemies in the region.

“The increase in the number of operations in the past year caused significant disruption to all pathways of injecting weaponry to different fronts by our enemies,” he said.

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