Skip to main content

Israeli planes strike Syrian military base, U.S. official says

By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent
November 1, 2013 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The Syrian military regains control of the town of al Safira
  • Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman: "We don't refer to foreign reports"
  • U.S. official: Targeted were missiles, equipment the Israelis felt might be given to Hezbollah
  • Israel has long said it would target any transfer of weapons to Hezbollah

(CNN) -- Israeli warplanes struck a military base near the Syrian port city of Latakia this week, an Obama administration official told CNN on Thursday.

An explosion at a missile storage site in the area was reported in the Middle Eastern press, but an attack has not been confirmed by the Israeli government.

The target, according to the Obama administration official, was missiles and related equipment the Israelis felt might be transferred to the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah. The official declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information.

There was some confusion about the timing of the attack, with some reports saying it happened Wednesday, and others saying Thursday.

When asked for comment, an Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman told CNN: "We don't refer to foreign reports."

Israel has been accused several other times this year of launching airstrikes inside Syria, including once in January. In the January incident, a U.S. official said Israeli fighter jets bombed a Syrian convoy suspected of moving weapons to Hezbollah.

Israel's military did not comment on any of the allegations at the time, but has long said it would target any transfer of weapons to Hezbollah or other groups designated as terrorists, as well as any effort to smuggle Syrian weapons into Lebanon that could threaten Israel.

Thursday's reports of a blast come amid a Syrian civil war in which Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim militant group, has been helping Syrian government forces. Syria's government is led by President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Shiite offshoot Alawite sect; the rebels and other militants fighting al-Assad's forces and Hezbollah are largely made up of Sunni Muslims.

The Syrian conflict began in March 2011 after government forces cracked down on peaceful protesters during the Arab Spring movement and is now a full-blown civil war. The United Nations estimates that more than 100,000 people have died in the conflict.

On Thursday, the Syrian military took back control of al Safira, a town that is believed to house a chemical weapons production facility. Rebels withdrew from the strategic town, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

International inspectors are trying to ensure that Syria eliminates its chemical weapons stockpile by the middle of next year. Syria agreed to the program under international pressure earlier this year.

One of the monitoring groups, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said Thursday that Syria has destroyed all its declared chemical weapons mixing, filling and production facilities, and all of the chemical weapons at inspected sites have been placed under seal.

The watchdog body's announcement of the facilities' destruction meant that Syria met a key deadline in the elimination program.

The joint United Nations-OPCW mission visited 21 out of 23 sites, an OPCW statement said, and 39 of the 41 facilities at those sites. The remaining two sites were too dangerous for the inspectors to go to, it said, but Syria had declared those sites abandoned. The chemical weapons equipment there was moved to other sites, which were inspected.

CNN's Samira Said contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1448 GMT (2248 HKT)
As a 10-year-old, this boy first hit the headlines in 1982 when he saved his cat from a fire. This year, he was reported to be a suicide bomber.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Aqsa Mahmood,19, would listen to Coldplay and read Harry Potter books. Then this Glasgow girl became an ISIS bride.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0823 GMT (1623 HKT)
The little boy looks barely old enough to walk, let alone understand the dark world he's now inhabiting.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0422 GMT (1222 HKT)
ISIS has released video of the aftermath of a mass execution. Another video shows alleged captured Peshmerga soldiers.
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 0933 GMT (1733 HKT)
The number of people who have fled Syria and registered as refugees amid the country's civil war will surpass 3 million Friday.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
Douglas McAuthur McCain, 33, grew up in the Minneapolis area, but died more than 6,000 miles away in Syria, fighting for ISIS.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 2054 GMT (0454 HKT)
If the United States is serious about thoroughly defeating ISIS, it must, somehow, go through Syria.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1243 GMT (2043 HKT)
Jihadists have kidnapped over 140 Kurdish boys to "brainwash" them. But a few boys made a daring escape.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
Reports that Syrian warplanes carried out a cross-border attack on Iraqi towns is further evidence of the blurring of the two countries' borders.
June 24, 2014 -- Updated 2133 GMT (0533 HKT)
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to a father whose teenage son joined the Jihad movement in Syria.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1141 GMT (1941 HKT)
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 2117 GMT (0517 HKT)
Atika Shubert looks at the rise of European jihadists traveling to Syria and whether they soon could join ISIS in Iraq.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
The final stockpile of Syria's chemical weapons has been shipped out of the country, according to the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
June 25, 2014 -- Updated 2025 GMT (0425 HKT)
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Syrian rebels using underground explosions against the better-equipped regime.
June 9, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh returns to the besieged rebel areas of Aleppo, a pale skeleton of a city that has had the life bombed out of it.
June 2, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Syria may be embroiled in a brutal three-year civil war, but that's not stopping the government from holding presidential elections.
June 3, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh meets an ISIS defector in hiding and gets a rare look into the group's recruitment process.
June 5, 2014 -- Updated 1610 GMT (0010 HKT)
Over a thousand Syrian refugees have turned an abandoned shopping mall in Lebanon into makeshift living quarters.
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 1845 GMT (0245 HKT)
More than 100,000 people reportedly have been killed in Syria since a popular uprising in 2011 spiraled into a civil war.
ADVERTISEMENT