Aleppo airport out of service after Israeli air attack: State media

Israeli attack damages runway, grounding flights in northern Syria, state news agency SANA reports.

A man walks at Aleppo international airport
Flights have been diverted to Damascus and Latakia airports, following the Israeli attack on Aleppo's airport, according to SANA [File: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters]

An Israeli air attack has struck Aleppo’s international airport, resulting in a runway damage and operational shutdown, Syrian state media SANA reported, citing a military source.

“At about 4:30am [01:30 GMT] … the Israeli enemy undertook an aerial aggression from the direction of the Mediterranean west of Latakia, targeting Aleppo International Airport,” the source said on Monday, adding that this resulted in damage to the runway.

Israel rarely comments on attacks it carries out in Syria but has repeatedly said it will not allow its arch foe Iran to expand its presence in the country.

An Israeli army spokesperson on Monday told the AFP news agency: “We do not comment on reports in the foreign media.”

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

Syrian Ministry of Transport official Suleiman Khalil 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 told AFP.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the attacks also targeted weapons depots at the adjacent Nayrab military airport.

Israeli attacks have repeatedly caused the grounding of flights at the airports in Aleppo and the capital, Damascus, both of which are controlled by the government.

Over the past years, Israel has carried out a number of attacks within Syrian government-controlled territories, with a focus on Damascus and Aleppo airports.

The Aleppo airport has been targeted several times this year, including twice in March which similarly disrupted operations.

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

Three people were killed during a March 7 attack, while another attack two weeks later destroyed a suspected arms depot used by Iran-backed militias at Aleppo airport, the UK-based SOHR reported.

Monday’s attacks come a week after two fighters backing the Syrian government were killed in Israeli air attacks on sites near Damascus, SOHR, which relies on a network of sources on the ground in Syria, said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies