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Syria

Israeli airstrike on Syrian base near Latakia?

Two television channels Al-Arabiya and CNN have claimed that an Israeli airstrike has targeted a missile shipment in Syria destined for the Lebanese militia Hezbollah. Israel has declined to confirm the reports.

Explosions have rocked a Syria airbase near the port of Latakia, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television said on Thursday. It said the targets were surface-to-air missiles intended for Lebanese militia Hezbollah.

Hezbollah has previously fought in western Syria alongside troops of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

An Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman told the news agency Reuters: "We are not commenting on these reports." Three attacks with similar targets in Syria earlier this year also drew no acknowledgement from Israel.

The American channel CNN quoted an unidentified US administration official on Thursday as saying that Israeli warplanes struck a Syrian base near Latakia.

The Lebanese military had said six Israeli jets overflew Lebanese territory on Wednesday, Reuters said.

Al-Arabiya quoted the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying the explosions were heard on Wednesday. The pro-opposition observatory collates information from opposition Syrian activists.

Israel has repeatedly warned that it was prepared to use force to prevent advanced weapons, notably from Iran, reaching Hezbollah. During 2006, the militia hit northern Israel with rockets during a month-long conflict.

ipj/dr (Reuters, AFP)