The Israeli missile strikes put Damascus airport out of service

Beirut – The Syrian army said that the Israeli army fired missiles at the international airport in the Syrian capital at dawn today, Monday, which led to its removal from service, the killing of two soldiers, and the wounding of two others.

The attack, which took place shortly after midnight Sunday, is the second in seven months to put Damascus International Airport out of service. The army said the attack caused material damage in a nearby area, without elaborating.

Syria’s transportation ministry said work to repair the damage began immediately, and later on Monday some flights resumed while work continued on other parts of the airport.

Israel has targeted airports and seaports in government-held parts of Syria in an apparent effort to block arms shipments from Iran to armed groups backed by Tehran, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

An opposition war monitor reported that Israeli strikes hit the airport as well as a weapons depot near the facility south of Damascus. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four people were killed in the strike.

The conflicting reports could not be immediately reconciled.

The Observatory said that the runway used for civilian flights has been repaired, while another one used to transport goods is still out of service. The Observatory added that Iranian-backed groups also use this runway.

Later on Monday, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said the strikes were “part of a series of Israeli crimes” targeting Syria. In a statement, the ministry called on the UN Security Council to condemn “Israeli crimes and aggressions,” adding that those responsible must be held accountable and such attacks not to be repeated.

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There was no comment from Israel.

Syrian state TV reported that the private Cham Wings had resumed flights while flight-tracking website Flightradar24 showed a flight belonging to the Iraqi private company Fly Baghdad coming from the Iraqi city of Najaf about to land at around 9 am in Damascus.

On June 10, Israeli airstrikes targeting Damascus International Airport caused severe damage to the infrastructure and runways. It reopened two weeks later after repairs.

In September, Israeli air strikes targeted the international airport of the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s once largest commercial hub, knocking it out of service for several days.

In late 2021, Israeli warplanes fired missiles targeting the port of Latakia, hitting containers and starting a massive fire.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled areas of Syria in recent years, but it rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.

However, Israel has acknowledged that it is targeting the bases of armed groups allied with Iran, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to support the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Thousands of Iranian-backed fighters have joined the 11-year-old Syrian civil war and helped tip the balance of power in Assad’s favor.

Israel says that the Iranian presence on its northern borders is a red line that justifies its bombing of facilities and weapons inside Syria.

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