BEIRUT: Satellite images taken this week over the Syrian port of Latakia show the smoldering wreckage after a reported Israeli missile strike, hours after firefighters contained a massive blaze.
The raid launched from the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday was among the biggest launched by Israel into Syria, igniting a fire in the container terminal that raged for hours and caused significant material damage in the vicinity.
It damaged a nearby hospital and offices, and also shattered windows of residential buildings and cars parked in the area near the port. The explosion could be heard miles away.
It was the second such attack on the facility this month.
The Latakia seaport handles most of the imports to Syria, a country ravaged by a decade-old civil war and Western-imposed sanctions.
Another attack took place Dec. 7, when Syrian media reported Israeli warplanes hit the container terminal, also igniting a major fire.
Satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press from Planet Labs PBC on Thursday showed heavy smog over the container terminal on Wednesday, likely from the struck container still smoking. The images suggest it was a high precision strike that appeared to hit one container.
A Syrian military official said the Israeli missiles were fired from the sea, west of Latakia, hitting the terminal and igniting fires.
Maj. Mohannad Jafaar, head of the Latakia fire department, said 12 fire trucks worked for hours to contain the blaze.
He said the containers that were hit held spare auto parts and oil but there were no casualties.
The Israeli military, which rarely comments on individual attacks or discusses details of such operations, declined to comment on the reported strike.
Israel says it targets bases of Iran-allied militias, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, which has fighters in Syria. It says it attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for the militias.
Also on Thursday, Bahrain appointed its first ambassador to Damascus since it downgraded ties early in the conflict.
The appointment of Waheed Mubarak Sayyar, reported by Bahrain’s state news agency BNA, is part of a diplomatic shift in the Middle East as a growing number of Arab countries revive ties with President Bashar Assad.
Gulf states downgraded or shut missions in Damascus after the Syrian regime used force against the 2011 protests that developed into war.
Bahrain has said its embassy, and the Syrian diplomatic mission in Manama, have remained operational.
Last month, the UAE, which reopened its mission to Damascus in late 2018, sent its foreign minister to Damascus where he met Assad. It has called for Syria to be readmitted to the Arab League.
Abu Dhabi began to re-engage with Damascus after decisive gains by pro-regime forces, hoping to increase Arab clout in Syria at the expense of non-Arab Turkey and Iran, which supports Assad.
Oman last year became the first Gulf state to reinstate an ambassador to Syria.