Fire Contained at Syrian Port After Israeli Missiles Strike for Second Time This Month

Firefighters contained a fire at the Syrian port of Latakia on Tuesday, officials said, after Israel missiles struck the port for the second time this month.

The missiles were launched from the Mediterranean sea, west of Latakia causing the fire in the container terminal in the early morning, an unnamed military official said to the official state news agency SANA. State media reported Syrian air defenses activated when the missiles began to fall upon the terminal at approximately 3:20 a.m.

Tuesday's explosion could be heard miles away and caused more damage than the previous attack, according to Syrian officials and state media. The first attack happened when Israel warplanes hit the container terminal, resulting in another fire on Doc. 7, Syrian media reported.

The attack targeted the port that manages a majority of the imports to Syria, which is facing a 10-year civil war and sanctions enforced from Western countries. Firefighters combated the flames after the attack, the military official said.

The head of the Latakia fire department, Major Mohannad Jafaar, said 12 trucks worked for hours to contain the fire. The containers hit by the missiles had spare auto parts and oil, he said. He added that there were no casualties. Video of the area showed black plumes of smoke over the port as fires burned in the terminal.

Syrian Port Fire, Latakia, Israel Missiles
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, flames rise from burning containers at the scene of a missile attack, at the seaport of the coastal city of Latakia, Syria, early December 28. Israeli missiles fired from the Mediterranean struck the Syrian port of Latakia igniting a fire in the container terminal, Syrian state media reported, in the second such attack on the vital facility this month.

Syria's state-run Al-Ikhbariyah TV ran footage showing flames and smoke rising from the terminal. It later aired images of broken glass and other damage at residential buildings and cars parked in the area near the port. It said a nearby hospital was also impacted.

An Al-Ikhbariyah reporter said Tuesday's attack could be heard in Tartus, another coastal city more than 80 kilometers (nearly 50 miles) away.

Port manager Amjad Suleiman told Al-Ikhbariyah the damage was much larger than that caused by the December 7 attack and required a major effort to move in-tact containers away from the flames.

At the time of the December 7 attack, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitoring group, said the airstrike hit arms shipments destined for Iran-backed fighters.

The Israeli military declined to comment on the reported strikes in Syria. But in a year-end statement issued by the military, chief of staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kohavi boasted of success in disrupting weapons shipments to Israel's enemies in the region.

"The increase in the scope of operations over the past year has led to a significant disruption of the movement of weapons into the various arenas by our enemies," he said. The statement did not elaborate.

In its year-end assessment, the Israeli military confirmed carrying out strikes on dozens of targets in Syria in what it called "the campaign between the wars." Three targets also were struck in Lebanon, it said. It gave no further details.

It also reported about 100 operations by the Israeli Navy, including dozens of "special operations." It did not elaborate, but the navy operates in both the Mediterranean and Red seas.

The Israeli military rarely comments on individual attacks or discusses details of such operations.

Some past strikes have targeted the main airport in the Syrian capital of Damascus.

Israel said it targets bases of Iran-allied militias, such as Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group, which has fighters in Syria. It says it attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for the militias.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Syrian Port Fire, Latakia, Israel Missiles
The Israel missiles were launched from the Mediterranean sea, west of Latakia causing the fire in the container terminal in the early morning, an unnamed military official said to the officials state news agency SANA. In this photo, a Syrian man fishes on the coast in Latakia, northwest of Damascus, on May 19, 2014. Joseph Eid/AFP via Getty Images