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Israel quiet on reports of latest airstrike on Syria

July 13, 2013|By Edmund Sanders
  • Israeli soldiers take part in a military exercise in the Golan Heights, near the border with Syria, in June. Israel would not comment on reports that its jets carried out an airstrike on a Syrian port city last week.
Israeli soldiers take part in a military exercise in the Golan Heights,… (Jack Guez / AFP/ Getty Images )

CAIRO -- Israeli officials were silent Saturday about growing reports that it was responsible for an airstrike July 5 that rocked the Syrian port city of Latakia.

If true, it would mark Israel’s fourth attack against Syrian weapons caches this year. Officially the government has declined to comment on the strikes, though officials in Israel and the U.S. have privately confirmed Israel’s involvement.

Asked about reports of the latest strike, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon repeated Israel’s longstanding position that it does not want to interfere in Syria’s civil war, but will take steps to prevent sophisticated weapons from falling into the wrong hands.

"We have set red lines in regards to our own interests, and we keep them," he said. Israel is believed to be behind similar attacks in January and May.

A Syrian website, Al Hakika, which is seen as close to the Syrian opposition, reported that the attack targeted warehouses for Russian Yakhont anti-ship missiles.

Such missiles would be particularly threatening to Israel’s ability to monitor the Mediterranean Sea and develop lucrative natural gas fields off its coast.

On Friday, CNN quoted three unnamed U.S. officials as saying Israel was behind the strike.

After the last reported Israeli strike in May, the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad warned that it would retaliate against any future attacks. So far Assad has not responded militarily.

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