A Syrian air defense base reportedly targeted late Wednesday night may have housed advanced S-125 missiles.
A map of the airbase posted online shows three batteries of the Russian-made surface-to-air anti-aircraft missile at the base, outside Snobar Jableh in the country’s Latakia region.
Al-Arabiya quoted opposition forces saying the base held S-125 missiles.
The S-125 is especially effective against maneuverable low- to medium-altitude targets, including aircraft. The Egyptians used them with some success during the War of Attrition and the 1973 Yom Kippur war, and batteries used by Iraq may have knocked down coalition aircraft in the First Gulf War.
The system has undergone improvements since then, but countermeasures have also taken leaps forward.
A massive explosion was reported at the base late Wednesday night, with some reports that it was targeted by missiles fired from the sea.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a loud explosion at the Syrian army base.
The Syrian news outlet Dam Press, considered loyal to the regime of Bashar Assad, reported that the site was damaged but there were no injuries.
After the strike, social media erupted with allegations that Israel may have been responsible, though there was no immediate Israeli response.
Earlier on Wednesday the Lebanese government news agency reported six Israeli aircraft flying through Lebanese airspace along the coast north of Beirut.
The coastal strip of Syria, encompassing the cities of Tartous, Latakia and Baniyas, is part of a predominantly Alawite portion of the country which remains loyal to the Assad regime in its lengthy campaign against rebels.
Israel has been accused of striking Syrian sites in the past, including in January and May this year. Israel refused to confirm the reports that it targeted weapons transfers, possibly to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which has remained loyal to Assad during the country’s bloody civil war.
Syria is reportedly in the midst of upgrading its missile defense system to the Russian-made S-300, a move Israel has lobbied against.