Eyewitnesses report five large explosions that rocked a military air base near Hama in central Syria at around 2:45 pm Friday afternoon, destroying weapons and fuel depots in the process. (Video courtesy of Dr. Qalaat Al Mudiq, military analyst), four initially and then a fifth that followed.
— Michael A. Horowitz (@michaelh992) May 18, 2018
“The explosions struck several regime depots of weapons and fuel at Hama military airport,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The cause of the explosions is unclear, with various unconfirmed reports suggesting the extreme heat may have touched off the conflagration, and other reports – unsubstantiated – claiming air strikes were responsible.
Advanced Iranian missile defense systems are reportedly stored at the site.
There is no word thus far on the number of casualties. This is not the first time that an air base has exploded near Hama. Last month an ammunition depot in the Hama area that was used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was targeted in an air strike by Israel; the explosions, which triggered a 2.6-magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale, were heard in Hama, and also in Aleppo.
Residents in Hama stood in the street on Friday afternoon watching as a huge plume of thick grey smoke rose in the air above the city from the site of the airport after the initial explosions were heard. A fifth explosion, inside the air base, blocked the arrival of rescuers, according to Qalaat Al Mudiq.
No reason for the blasts was given by the Syrian government.