Syria shuts down main airport after Israeli hit causes ‘sizable’ damage

The airstrike reportedly hit Iranian arms depots at the Damascus international air hub.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Syria announced Friday that it has temporarily closed its international airport after alleged Israeli airstrikes in the pre-dawn hours caused “sizeable” damage to its sole civilian runway.

The government’s Transportation Ministry said that it was suspending all flights due to the fact that the runway had been damaged “in several locations” and “some technical equipment stopped functioning at the airport.” One civilian had been injured in the attack, it said.

“Civil aviation and national companies are working… to repair the sizeable damage at the airport,” the ministry added.

Satellite images published by Israeli company ImageSat International showed three craters on the northern civilian runway, and three on the southern military runway. The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR), a British-based opposition group, says the latter had not been yet put back into service since alleged Israeli airstrikes hit it last year because the damage was so extensive.

According to SOHR, maintenance workers have been working steadily since Friday to repair the damage. “Vast parts of the old airport terminals were destroyed,” which had been used to “receive undercover figures from Iranian-backed military commanders and Lebanese Hezbollah,” the group said.

The terminals also included sections of “old lounges” that were being used to store Iranian weapons. In a previous report, SOHR said that the strikes had targeted “three warehouses of Iranian-backed militias in the perimeter of the airport.”

Repair work was currently also underway on the navigation lights and communications tower, SOHR said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry slammed Israel for its alleged attack.

“We are compelled to reiterate that the ongoing Israeli shelling of the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic, in violation of the basic norms of internationals law, is absolutely unacceptable,” said ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.

“We strongly condemn Israel’s provocative attack on the most important object of the Syrian civilian infrastructure,” she said, adding that her country “demands” that Israel “stop this vicious practice.”

Israel and Russia have a deconfliction mechanism in place in Syria, whereby Jerusalem makes sure to keep Moscow informed of its military actions so that no accidents occur involving Russian military personnel stationed in the country.

The Israeli government has not fulfilled Ukrainian requests for the Iron Dome anti-missile system and other military hardware in its fight against the Russian invasion of the country in what is widely acknowledged as an effort not to antagonize the Kremlin due to its prominent role in Syria.

According to various Syrian sources, this was the third Israeli attack in the country within a week. On Monday night, the IAF allegedly struck a weapons factory south of Damascus, causing enormous damage. Israel Hayom reported that it was “most likely” a facility where Hezbollah was trying to turn rockets into precision-guided missiles.

On Tuesday night, Israeli tank fire from the Golan Heights hit Syrian military positions over the border. While the exact numbers differed in the reports, it appears that at least several pro-Iranian militiamen were killed and another half a dozen people were wounded in the airstrikes.