Aleppo and Damascus international airports were damaged by an Israeli missile attack
Wednesday evening’s missile attack temporarily disabled the Aleppo international airport but also caused damage to the one in Damascus, the Syrian government said on Thursday. The attack, which Syria blamed on Israel, is the first known instance of targeting both civilian airports on the same day.
Israeli F-16s launched a total of 16 projectiles from outside Syrian airspace, said Major General Oleg Egorov, deputy chief of the Russian peacemaking mission in Damascus. Syrian air defenses shot down three of the incoming missiles, but the others struck the facilities in Aleppo and Damascus, he added.
According to the Syrian transportation ministry, the Aleppo runway was damaged but repairs are ongoing and the airport is expected to reopen for traffic by noon local time on Friday. As for the Damascus airport, the damage inflicted “did not affect” operations, the ministry said.
“Syria retains its full rights to hold the Israeli occupation authorities accountable and bear all legal, moral, political and financial responsibilities for deliberately targeting the international airports of Damascus and Aleppo and for endangering civilian facilities and lives,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a letter to the UN secretary-general and the Security Council, according to the state news agency SANA.
Back in June, a series of Israeli strikes took the Damascus airport out of service for several weeks, with traffic being rerouted to Aleppo – which had only reopened in February 2020, after being damaged in the decade-long civil war. Wednesday’s strike is the first known instance of Israel attacking both of Syria’s active international airports.
The international airport in Latakia is adjacent to the Khmeimim airbase used by the Russian expeditionary force, and has so far not been a target of Israeli attacks.
Israel has repeatedly targeted Syria with missiles, usually fired from Lebanese airspace or the occupied Golan Heights, wary of air defense systems provided by Russia to Damascus. On the rare occasions Jerusalem has acknowledged the attacks, the Israeli government said it was exercising preemptive self-defense against Iran. Tehran has offered military aid to Damascus in recent years against both Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists and other radical militants.
The London-based Iran International claimed that Wednesday’s strike was aimed at preventing an Iranian cargo plane from landing, first in Aleppo and then in Damascus. The plane reportedly belongs to an airline the US has designated as affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and placed under sanctions.