Syria reports rocket attack on munitions site from Mediterranean
NICOSIA — Syria was believed to have detected the first signs of attacks by foreign militaries.
Sources close to the regime of President Bashar Assad asserted that a munitions storehouse in Latakia was destroyed by what was believed to have stemmed from a rocket attack. The sources said the rockets were fired on July 5 either from the Mediterranean Sea or the coast in what could mark an attack by a foreign military. Sunni rebels claimed responsibility for the missile attack.
"There is a lot of speculation that this was either an air-to-ground missile or something fired from the sea," a source said. "This means the emergence of a new element in the war."
The Syrian military has not ruled out the prospect that a foreign power conducted the rocket attacks. On July 7, a Syrian military officer told the Lebanese daily Al Akhbar that three missiles struck a Syrian Army base at Haffa, located near Latakia. The blasts were said to have sparked a fire that reached the munitions facility, which in turn exploded.
"On the other hand, sources have confirmed that the barracks were targeted from an area near the coast, likely the sea," Al Akhbar, regarded as a pro-Syrian newspaper, said.
Syria has confirmed the rocket attack, and said a soldier was killed and nine others were injured. The military said army units returned fire.
The sources said the attack raised concern within the Assad regime that NATO countries were beginning to attack strategic facilities in Syria. They said the Mediterranean marked the best option for an attack that could not be traced to one of Syria's neighbors.
Assad's leading ally, the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah, has played down the missile attack on the Syrian Army base near Latakia. Hizbullah's Al Manar television, quoting a Syrian Army investigation, said the base, located 20 kilometers outside of Latakia, was struck by mortars fired during a battle with rebels.
"Military source to Al Manar: This is what really happened in Latakia," Al Manar said in a headline.