Syria didn’t activate its air defenses to stop the December 28 Israeli attack on the port of Lattakia because at the time an aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces was landing at the nearby Hmeimim Air Base, Oleg Zhuravlev, Deputy Head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria, revealed at a briefing held after the attack.
The Russian officer also shared new details on the Israeli aerial attack, which inflicted some heavy material losses on Lattakia port.
“From 04:21 to 04:26, two F-16 tactical fighters of the Israeli Air Force from the Mediterranean Sea, without crossing the border, struck with four guided missiles at facilities in the port of Latakia. As a result of the Israeli strike, minor material damage to the port infrastructure was inflicted,” Zhuravlev said.
The Israeli attack didn’t result in material losses only. According to Syrian pro-government sources, two people were killed. At least one of the victims was a service member.
The Syrian decision to not engaging the Israeli fighters in order to avoid any friendly fire incident was responsible. On 17 September 2018, Israeli fighter jets on a mission to strike targets on the Syrian coast used a Russian Il-20 intelligence plane as a cover from Syrian air defenses. The plane was shot down by friendly fire. Back then, 15 Russian service members were killed.
This was the second Israeli attack on Lattakia port and the third to target Syrian territory in general during December. On December 7, several airstrikes targeted the Port of Lattakia. Several containers, which were stored in the port’s main shipping yard, were destroyed in the attack. However, there were no casualties. On December 16, a series of airstrikes targeted Damascus International Airport. The southern runway was heavily damaged. A service member was also killed.
These attacks were a part of Israel’s “War-Between-Wars” military campaign, which is meant to push Iran and its allies out of Syria as well as to prevent them from developing their offensive capabilities. None of these objectives have been achieved as of yet.