Storerooms holding the missiles near the port city of Latakia were hit by Israeli war planes late on Sunday, according to a Syrian opposition source talking to Israel Radio. No confirmed details of the strike had emerged last night.
Official Israeli government and military sources declined to comment on the attack. But former Israeli Defence Forces intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said any such airstrike would be in keeping with Israeli policy to intercept the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah or to Syria.
“Israel has declared four weapons system as a red line: advanced air defences, advanced and accurate ballistic missiles, surface-to-sea advanced missiles like Yakhont, and chemical weapons.
“In each case where Israel has intelligence that these are moving from Syria to Lebanon, or arriving to Syria from Iran or Russia, it seems – if the sources are right – that Israel is acting upon this,” he told the Telegraph.
Residents of Latakia reported hearing loud explosions just around midnight and there were also reports of Israeli planes heard breaking the sound barrier.
Prof Uzi Rabi, a Middle East expert at Tel Aviv University, said Israel was “obligated to take action” if the Assad regime or Hizbollah obtained missiles like the S-300, which posed a threat to Israeli warplanes flying over Syria or Lebanon.
Other attacks on weapons convoys in Latakia have been attributed to Israel in the past. Last November, US sources said that Israel had destroyed a Hizbollah-bound shipment containing long-range, Russian-made missiles.
In July 2013, Israel also struck a Syrian missile warehouse near Latakia which contained Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles, according to US sources.
But that attack did not succeed in wiping out all of the weapons, American officials revealed to the New York Times.
US officials said at the time that further Israeli strikes were likely.
The daily Telegraph