Syria says Israeli air raid takes Aleppo airport out of service

Transport ministry says attack forced authorities to reroute flights carrying aid for those affected by February earthquakes.

The Aleppo International Airport in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake.
A view of the Aleppo International Airport, Syria, in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, February 14, 2023 [File: Firas Makdesi/ Reuters]

Israel has launched an air raid on Syria’s Aleppo airport, damaging its runway and taking it out of service, according to Syrian state media.

The SANA news agency said the missile attacks took place early on Tuesday morning.

Citing a military source, SANA said Israel “carried out an air attack from the direction of the Mediterranean Sea, west of Latakia, targeting Aleppo International Airport”. It added the raid “caused material damage” to the airport and “put it out of service”.

The city of Aleppo, which suffered widespread destruction in Syria’s war, was again heavily damaged in the deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit southern Turkey and northwestern Syria last month. A number of countries have since sent aid shipments to the city’s airport.

The Syrian transport ministry said in a statement that all scheduled flights, including those carrying humanitarian aid, would be rerouted to Damascus and Latakia after the “Israeli aggression”, according to state media.

There was no comment from Israeli officials.

For almost a decade, Israel has carried out hundreds of air attacks against suspected Iranian-sponsored weapons transfers and personnel deployments in neighbouring Syria, but it rarely acknowledges or discusses the operations.

The raids, which in recent months have targeted Syrian airports and air bases, are part of an escalation of what has been a low-intensity conflict with the goal of slowing down Iran’s growing entrenchment in Syria, military analysts say.

Iran, which backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has expanded its military presence in Syria in recent years and has a foothold in most state-controlled areas and thousands of members of militias and local paramilitary groups under its command, according to Western intelligence sources.

Iran’s proxy militias, led by Lebanon’s Hezbollah, now hold sway in large areas of eastern, southern and northwestern Syria and in several suburbs around the capital, Damascus.

On February 19, Israeli air attacks targeted residential areas in Damascus, killing at least five people and wounding 15, according to Syrian state news.

On January 2, the Syrian army said Israel’s military fired missiles towards the capital’s international airport, putting it out of service and killing two soldiers.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies