- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Rebel fighters in Syria said Tuesday a foreign power is to blame for destroying a stash of advanced Russian anti-ship missiles stored at one of the military’s naval facilities near the port of Latakia.

And topping that list of suspects: Israel, Reuters reported.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the strike early Friday morning. A Free Syrian Army (FSA) Supreme Military Council spokesman said the attack definitely stemmed from an external source, however. He also said that rebel intelligence agents found that new Yakhont missiles were being stored at the site.

“It was not the FSA that targeted this,” said spokesman Qassem Saadeddine in the Reuters article. “It is not an attack that was carried out by rebels. This attack was either by air raid or long-range missiles fired from boats in the Mediterranean.”

Syrian security analysts believe that israel has struck at the nation three times this year to keep weapons from being transferred from Syrian President Bashar Assad to Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon — though Israel, once again, neither confirms nor denies.

At the same time, Israel has said on previous occasions that it would take whatever means necessary — even pre-emptive measures — to protect its borders. In regards to the Latakia explosions, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said, as Reuters reported: “We have set red lines in regards to our own interests and we keep them. There is an attack here, an explosion there, various versions. In any event, in the Middle East it is usually we who are blamed most.”

Israel and Syria are still technically at war, Reuters reported.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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