Russian Admiral: Israel Attack Did Minor Damage to Syrian Port

Syrian air defense weren't active because Russian plane was nearby

Overnight, Israel attacked the Syrian port city of Latakia, causing multiple explosions and setting fires around several parts of the city. Details on the attack are just starting to emerge.

Russian Rear Admiral Oleg Zhuravlev offered substantial details on the strikes, saying two Israeli F-16s fired four missiles at the city’s ports. He reported minor material damage to port infrastructure. Two people were reported killed.

As far as the fire is concerned, it appears to have mostly burned shipping containers, with Syrian reporters saying that the fire mostly burned food and medical supplies.

Potentially the most important detail was on the timing of the attack. Syria has substantial air defenses at the port, but was unable to activate them because the Israeli attack came simultaneously with a Russian flight coming into the air base at Hmeimim, just 12 miles away.

Syria wouldn’t dare risk hitting the Russian plane, but the big question is if Israel was aware of its proximity. In recent attacks Israel has used airliners as cover for their attacks, and it would be entirely possible they knew this would keep air defense off them. Israel is refusing comment, but said they won’t let Iran bring in weapons.

Attacks on Latakia alone risk provoking Russia because of how close Hmeimim is. This makes it even more likely Russia will react, and object to the Israeli strikes.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.