October 1, 2023

Israeli airstrikes force closure of Aleppo airport, Syrian state media reports

2 min read

Israeli airstrikes on Aleppo airport in northern Syria have caused the grounding of flights, the Syrian state news agency Sana has reported, citing a military source.

During more than 12 years of civil war in Syria, Israel has launched hundreds of airstrikes on its territory, primarily targeting Iran-backed forces and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, as well as Syrian army positions.

The military source said the runway at Aleppo international airport was damaged after “the Israeli enemy undertook an aerial aggression from the direction of the Mediterranean, west of Latakia” at 4.30am local time.

Israel rarely comments on strikes it carries out in Syria, but has said repeatedly it would not allow its enemy Iran to expand its presence in the country.

An Israeli army spokesperson said: “We do not comment on reports in the foreign media.”

Suleiman Khalil, a Syrian transport ministry official, said the damage centred on the only functioning runway, adding that “maintenance teams will start repair work today to return the airport to service as quickly as possible”.

Flights were diverted to Damascus and Latakia airports, he said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes also targeted weapons depots at the adjacent Nayrab military airport.

Israeli strikes have repeatedly caused flights to be grounded at airports in Aleppo and the capital, Damascus, both of which are controlled by the government.

In early May, Israeli strikes on the Aleppo area killed four Syrian officers and three Iran-backed fighters and forced flights to stop, according to the war monitor.

Israeli attacks put the airport out of service twice in March. Three people were killed during an airstrike on 7 March, while another strike two weeks later destroyed a suspected arms depot used by Iran-backed militias at Aleppo airport, the UK-based organisation reported.

Two fighters backing the Syrian government were killed a week ago in Israeli airstrikes on sites near Damascus, said the observatory, which relies on a network of sources on the ground in Syria.

Syria’s war has killed more than 500,000 people, displaced millions and battered the country’s infrastructure and industry since it began in 2011.

The war pulled in foreign powers and jihadists, and while the frontlines have mostly quietened in recent years, large parts of the north remain outside government control.

With Iranian as well as Russian support, Assad’s government has clawed back much of the territory it had lost to rebels early in the conflict.

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