Several killed in blast at Syrian weapons depot
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Several killed in blast at Syrian weapons depot

Explosion heard throughout Latakia region, says Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

Smoke rises from buildings following air strikes on the rebel-held besieged town of Arbin, in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on January 8, 2018.  (AFP / Amer ALMOHIBANY)
Smoke rises from buildings following air strikes on the rebel-held besieged town of Arbin, in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on January 8, 2018. (AFP / Amer ALMOHIBANY)

A blast rocked a Syrian weapons depot, killing several people and causing damage, a Syrian watchdog group said Wednesday, a day after Israeli jets reportedly struck an arsenal near Damascus.

Syrian army regulars and fighters belonging to pro-regime militias were killed or injured in the explosion, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Wednesday.

The Britain-based group did not say how many people had been killed or hurt in the blast, which occurred near the city of Slinfah.

The blast, whose cause remained unclear, could be heard around the whole region of Latakia in western Syria.

The area is considered the power base for Syrian President Bashar Assad, and is home to a number of military installations. Russia also maintains a military presence in the area.

The reports come a day after the Syrian military said that Israel conducted airstrikes on a military base in the city of al-Qutayfah, outside Damascus, early Tuesday morning, reportedly on a weapons depot containing long-range missiles.

“Our air defenses responded to three Israeli missile attacks on military positions in the al-Qutayfah countryside,” official Syrian state media quoted military officials as saying.

The Israeli military did not comment on the reports.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a meeting of Israel-based ambassadors to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that Israel was “absolutely committed to preventing Iran from establishing a military base in Syria,” on Tuesday.

“And we back our words with action,” he added, likely hinting at various airstrikes on weapon convoys and factories attributed by foreign sources to the Jewish state.

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