Not far from the Russian Hmeimim base in the countryside of Lattakia, northwestern Syria, air strikes, which were said to be Israeli, targeted, at dawn on Wednesday, targets and sites that are “sensitive” for the Syrian regime, in a remarkable development that has never been at this pace of escalation.
Its timing also has implications and messages that may clarify part of the field scene for the region in the next stage.
The strikes were not only limited to Latakia, but also affected areas in the coastal city of Tartus and another in the Masyaf area in the countryside of Hama governorate, and the official Syrian News Agency (SANA) accused Israel of being responsible for it.
It quoted a military source as saying: “At about 2:18 am today,” Israel carried out air strikes “from the direction of southwest Lattakia, targeting some points in the coastal area, and our air defense media intercepted the aggression’s missiles and dropped some of them.”
According to the source, the bombing resulted in the death of one person and the injury of six others in an initial outcome, in addition to some material losses, including a civilian facility for the manufacture of plastic materials.
The destruction caused by the strikes in the Latakia countryside was “significant”, according to what media sources from the governorate said, indicating in statements to the Al-Hurra website that the region had never witnessed such strikes since the beginning of the war in Syria.
The sources, who requested anonymity, added that “initial information indicated that the bombing targeted military sites, including warehouses for manufacturing anti-ship missiles, as well as civilian areas including Al-Haffah and Ras Shamra.”
During the past years, Israel launched dozens of air strikes in Syria, targeting in particular the sites of the Syrian army, Iranian targets and other Lebanese Hezbollah militias.
The Israeli army insists on continuing its missile and air strikes inside Syria, which it says is to prevent the Iranian repositioning in the region.
And the Israeli army spokesman, Haidai Zilberman, has previously said that his country will not stop striking Iran in Syria, and prevent it from positioning itself on the one hand, and from passing weapons and advanced technologies to Hezbollah in Lebanon on the other side.
The Latakia region, from which the family of the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, is hardly hit by Israeli strikes.
These strikes were concentrated on military sites in southern Syria and in the vicinity of the capital, Damascus, indicating that “the rules of the Israeli game in Syria have changed.”
In September 2018, the Syrian air defenses were activated to counter the Israeli missiles in this governorate, and the Syrian air defenses accidentally shot down a Russian plane, killing the soldiers on board.
“A coordination mechanism. Assad and the Iranians Are Targeted
While there was no comment from Moscow on the strikes that targeted the coastal areas of Syria, observers say that Russia is in clear and announced coordination with Israel regarding the bombing that the latter carries out on a regular basis.
This coordination began more clearly after the crash of the plane in 2018, to be followed later by the so-called anti-collision mechanism, which ensures that there is no military collision inside the Syrian territories and in the airspace, provided that each party is notified to the other about the targets it intends to hit, before a specified period Of time.
It is no secret that Latakia governorate is considered within the operational range of the Russian “S-400” missile system and also the “S-300” system, meaning that the missiles that targeted targets of the Syrian regime passed in front of “the eyes of the Russians.”
The analyst and military expert, Colonel Ismail Ayoub, reviewed the most prominent targets of “Israeli missiles” at dawn on Wednesday, based on information he had obtained, he said.
In statements to Al-Hurra, Ayoub said, “The targets were distributed in Lattakia, Jableh, and Tartous, and another target in Masyaf targeted its Scientific Research Center, which employs Iranian and North Korean experts.”
The military expert continues, “Part of the strikes targeted valuable targets in Tartous, which is the brigade of anti-ship naval missiles. In Lattakia, the strikes also hit the Scientific Research Center, and a factory said to manufacture narcotic pills.
Ayoub considered that the strikes are “violent in comparison to their predecessors,” noting: “It is a very big Israeli message to the Syrian regime and its supporters.” Meaning that any reaction to the Israeli strikes in Syria will be met with a violent reaction from Israeli aircraft and possibly warships and boats whose strikes range up to 350 kilometers.
For his part, the Israeli political analyst, Yoni Ben Menachem, believes that the strikes on the coastal areas “are a message addressed to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, before the presidential elections, that he must stop the Iranian military entrenchment in Syria, and that Israel can reach any place in Syria where Iran is militarily located.”
There is another message of the bombing, Menachem said in statements to the Al-Hurra website: “It is related to the fact that Israel has obtained very accurate intelligence information for everything that comes from Iran to Syria by air, land and sea.”
The Israeli analyst adds that the current estimates in Israel indicate that the bombing targeted targets and weapons that arrived via Iranian ships, as they were stored in warehouses in the Latakia region and also in the Syrian coast region in western Syria.
Menachem continues, “The targeted area is home to the majority of the Alawite sect to which Assad belongs. This is another message that there is no immunity for any Syrian if he comes to help Iran.
Military analyst Ismail Ayoub ruled out that the strikes will be targeted mainly in the form of pure Iranian sites in Syria, despite the fact that they are “painful.”
From a military perspective, Ayoub, a colonel who defected from the Syrian army, points out that the strikes all target sites where Iranian experts are present, explaining: “Therefore, if they wanted to target the Iranian human presence, they would target its prominent places. Israel is not disturbed by the human presence if it stays under the red lines drawn for it. ”
“Impressive reports precede the strikes.”
Returning to what the Israeli analyst, Yoni Ben Menachem, said, is closely related to what was mentioned in a report issued by the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based research organization.
The report, published in late April, said that Russia had recently sought to provide protection for the smuggling of missiles and ammunition from Iran to Syria, by sea, after the increase in attacks carried out by Israel against smuggling convoys coming via land routes.
The report added that Tehran, with protection from Moscow, has created sea routes for smuggling, whereby missiles are transported in ships and oil tankers accompanied by Russian ships, to ensure that the shipments reach inside Syrian territory, where some are stored there, and some are in Lebanon.
He pointed out that the strikes carried out by Israel inside the Syrian territories were aimed at destroying these munitions, so that they would not reach the hands of Iranian militias, especially the Lebanese “Hezbollah”.
The report conveyed information that “Iranian ships sail through the Red Sea, pass through the Suez Canal and reach the Mediterranean, with documents claiming that they only carry oil shipments, but in reality they are not the only cargo they carry.”