Were the missiles that Bashar Al-Assad recently received from Russia the target of an attack in Latakia? Syrian rebels reported tonight (Thursday) that a series of mysterious explosions occurred in the area of the port city of Latakia, which has been the target of attacks in the past.
From information reported by foreign sources, it is possible to assess that the targets of the attack were Russian-produced missile batteries. The Syrian army holds a layout of batteries in Latakiam as well as warehouses with advanced antiaircraft batteries and Bastion batteries, intended for firing Yakhont short-to-sea missiles. Syria received all of the missiles from Russia over the course of the past few years. Al Arabiya is reporting that another target was attacked in parallel to the attack in Latakia, in the area of Damascus. The report is attributing the attack to Israel.
On July 2013, a layout of warehouses used for storing the Russian Yakhont missiles was attacked on the road from Latakia to Al Haffah. Media sources later reported that the attack, which was attributed to Israel, was not successful in destroying the entire Yakhont missile layout.
Two months ago, Russia transferred weapon shipments by sea which apparently included advanced antiaircraft systems defined by Russia as "special cargo". The shipments were loaded from Novorossiysk port in the Black Sea, which is known as being used by the nearby Russian air defense battalion for the storage of S-300 systems and portable SA-17 batteries.
The site that was attacked last night by the Syrian rebels with missiles fired from the sea was used until recently for the deployment of advanced S-125 antiaircraft systems manufactured by Russia. While it is an advanced system, it is one that is known and which operates in several sites across Russia, which is why an attack against such a layout may have occurred if it recently underwent major upgrades.
Russia tends to upgrade the S-125 battery sites to more advanced batteries such as the S-300. It did so several years ago as part of a contract for supplying S-300s that it signed with Algiers. The reason lies in the existing infrastructure that allows the portable launch instruments to move from special constructions built in the ground. Russia has stated in the past few months that it supplied part of the S-300 components to Syria, but claimed that it did not provide the complete system, which also includes the core components. Did the site at Latakia nevertheless serve as a target for such an upgrade? Time will tell.