Israeli missile strikes put Damascus airport out of service

BEIRUT — The Israeli military fired missiles at the Syrian capital’s international airport early Monday, knocking it out of service and killing two soldiers and wounding two others, the Syrian army said.

The attack, which took place shortly after midnight on Sunday, was the second in seven months to put Damascus International Airport out of service. It caused material damage in a nearby area, the army said, without giving further details.

Syria’s transport ministry said work to repair the damage began immediately and later on Monday some flights resumed while work in other parts of the airport continued.

Israel has attacked airports and ports in government-held parts of Syria in an apparent attempt to prevent Iran from supplying arms to Tehran-backed armed groups, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

An opposition military monitor said Israeli strikes hit the airport as well as a weapons depot near the facility south of Damascus. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four people were killed in the strike.

The conflicting reports could not be immediately reconciled.

The observatory said a runway used for civilian flights had been fixed, while another used for cargo remained out of service. This runway is also used by Iran-backed groups, the Observatory added.

Later on Monday, Syria’s foreign ministry said the strikes were “part of a series of Israeli crimes” targeting Syria. In a statement, the ministry called on the UN Security Council to condemn “Israeli crimes and aggressions”, adding that those responsible must be held accountable and such attacks must not be repeated.

There was no comment from Israel.

Syrian state television reported that private Cham Wings had resumed flights, while flight-tracking website Flightradar24 showed a flight by private Iraqi Fly Baghdad, coming from the Iraqi city of Najaf, landing shortly before 9 a.m. in Damascus.

On June 10, Israeli airstrikes that hit Damascus International Airport caused significant damage to infrastructure and runways. Two weeks later it reopened after renovations.

In September, Israeli airstrikes hit the international airport of the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest and once commercial hub, also putting it out of service for days.

In late 2021, Israeli warplanes fired missiles that hit the port of Latakia, hitting containers and starting a massive fire.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets in government-held parts of Syria in recent years, but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.

But Israel has admitted it is targeting bases of Iran-allied armed groups, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Thousands of Iranian-backed fighters have joined Syria’s 11-year civil war and helped tip the balance of power in Assad’s favor.

Israel claims that Iran’s presence on its northern border is a red line that justifies its strikes on facilities and weapons in Syria.

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