Explosions rocked the Syrian port of Latakia late Saturday night, and by Sunday morning local media was confirming that the target had been advanced Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.
Israel is widely believed to have attacked Latakia in October of last year to take out advanced anti-aircraft batteries installed shortly prior to that, so the Jewish state was naturally the prime suspect in Saturday night's air strike.
Israel views the introduction of the S-300 system to Syria as a national security threat for two reasons: first, it makes striking facilities in Syria, such as the recent attempted nuclear weapons center, much more difficult; and, second, those missiles would likely find their way into Hezbollah's hands, giving the Lebanese terror group a new, unacceptable cover for its rocket fire on Israel.
Israeli officials refused to comment on the matter, but for hours prior to the explosions, Lebanese, Syrian and other Arab media had reported Israeli aerial activity over northern Lebanon.
In related news, a senior Israeli intelligence official told the Associated Press on Sunday that is not necessarily keen to see Syrian dictator Bashar Assad toppled, and neither are Western powers.
While Assad is a brutal and blood-soaked authoritarian, he is likely to be the lesser of two evils, as the forces arrayed against him are made up largely of radical Islamists, such as Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Israel is certain that after defeating Assad, those forces would turn their focus on the Jewish state, and Syria will become the region's top terrorist haven. Likewise, the thousands of Muslims with European citizenship currently fighting in Syria would likely return to their adopted nations and carry out attacks there.
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