Israeli jets attack Russian missiles inside Syria
Assault on SA-125 rockets in Latakia comes at bad time as Russia and US try to end bloody civil war
ISRAELI aircraft launched an attack on Russian-made missiles at a military base near the Syrian port city of Latakia, the BBC reports.
The attack is believed to be the third Israeli air strike this year on shipments of Russian missiles within Syria. President Assad has vowed to respond to any Israeli incursion with force and the latest incident "adds another volatile layer to regional tensions from the Syrian civil war".
An unnamed security official told the BBC that the target of the attack were Russian SA-125 missiles belonging to pro-Assad forces. Syrian activists and opposition groups reported explosions on Wednesday night that appeared to come from inside an air defence facility.
Latakia is one of President Assad's strongholds where the Alawite community to which he belongs is concentrated.
Israel rarely comments on specific operations, says the BBC, but it has repeatedly said it would act if it felt "Syrian weapons, conventional or chemical, were being transferred to militant groups in the region, especially Hezbollah".
The BBC's Jim Muir says reports of the attack come at a delicate moment, because the Russians - who have continued to supply weapons to Assad throughout the bloody civil war - are working closely with the US to get a peace conference on Syria off the ground.
While Assad has vowed to respond to any Israeli attack, there are good reasons he may choose to stay on the sidelines this time, says The Guardian.
"The Syrian military, overstretched by the civil war, has not retaliated, and it was not clear whether the embattled Syrian leader would choose to take action this time," the paper says. "Assad may decide to again let the Israeli attack slide, particularly when his army has the upper hand on the battlefield inside Syria." ·