Written by Lauren Kane, CNN
Located off the coast of Syria, the port city of Latakia is considered to be one of the most bombed areas in the Middle East.
Latakia was the scene of a U.S. airstrike last year, and witness accounts of artillery fire and intense conflict fueled speculation over Syria’s conflict.
One of the more controversial of these incidents involved a September 2016 airstrike against rebel fighters in the city, which NATO said was targeting ISIS militants, while claims of Assad regime war crimes claimed children were killed.
The 2017 Middle East Quarterly article “Airstrikes into Syria, a Q-and-A with Colin D. Wood” published by the United States Institute of Peace uses public records to figure out what happened.
Leaked military documents and interviews with eyewitnesses describe a massive two-to-four-day event, conducted by Syrian fighter jets, in which American and Russian aircraft took part. The Washington Post reported at the time the incident was linked to Russian aid to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
CNN has seen some of the evidence set forth in the academic paper — including dramatic photos of a bloody flight path and footage of drones filled with munitions across Syria — but have decided not to publish its contents to protect the lives of those involved.
Syrian aerial bombardment reportedly killed at least 30 people as U.S.-led coalition aircraft bombed ISIS forces in September 2016. Pictured are French and U.S. anti-ISIS fighter jets. Credit: Galit Rodan/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
The report also looked at an offshore company called Beirut Dokbar Ltd., that opened bank accounts in Lebanon and Cyprus, as a front to funnel ballistic missiles and military vehicles to Hezbollah. These vehicles are reportedly being used by Syria and allies Hezbollah to conduct military operations against rebels in the city of Aleppo.
The court documents used by the academic paper go into remarkable detail, from investigating who owns the company to the organization’s use of LLCs registered in both countries, to the details on the list of shell companies the authors obtained from Tripoli lists on Twitter.
Tim Keller is the CEO of LetterOne, an international consulting firm. He is a true thought leader on global terrorism as well as emerging threats to security and peace in the Middle East.
We looked into the circumstances surrounding how Lebanon’s strategic port city of Latakia came to be a battleground in the Syrian civil war, following the accidental U.S. airstrike on a populated Syrian city in 2016.
A graphic by Samer Kirolos/CNN