Two soldiers were killed as an Israeli attack put Damascus International Airport out of service for the second time in less than a year.
The Syrian army said Israeli missiles killed at least two Syrian soldiers and disabled the country’s main international airport.
A volley of air-launched rockets came from the direction of Lake Tiberias in Israel around 2 a.m. local time Monday (23:00 GMT Sunday) and targeted Damascus International Airport and its surroundings, the military said in a statement , transmitted by an official representative SANA Information Agency.
The attacks resulted in “the death of two soldiers, the wounding of two others, some material losses” and put the airport out of service, the statement said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said the Israeli strikes hit the airport as well as a weapons depot near the facility south of Damascus. According to him, at least four people were killed in the attack.
There was no immediate comment from Israel.
The incident marked the second time Damascus International Airport has been taken out of service in less than a year.
On June 10, Israeli airstrikes hit the airport caused significant damage to the infrastructure and tracks.
Two weeks later it reopened after renovations.
Israel has also struck other Syrian airports, including an attack in September on the international airport in the city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest and once commercial hub, which also put it out of service for days.
Israel has committed hundreds of raids on targets in government-held parts of Syria in recent years, but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations. But Israel said it was 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.
Rami Khoury, a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Middle East Initiative, said the latest Israeli attack could be a bid “by a new government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu to signal to the Iranians, Syrians and Russians that Israel will maintain this policy of striking any target it deems to pose a threat to its own security.
Netanyahu, who won the election in November, was took an oath as Prime Minister of Israel for his sixth term on December 29.
“The important thing here to remember is that the United States government, through Congress, passed laws years ago guaranteeing that Israel would be militarily superior to any enemy or combination of enemies around them. So Israel has had impunity to carry out attacks wherever it wants in the region and no one has been able to stop them,” Khoury said.
“The Israelis and the Russians, who are close allies of Syria and have been fighting in Syria to keep the Assad regime in power, have an understanding that Israel can attack certain positions in Syria but must not interfere with Russian military actions there.” , he said, adding that this means such attacks are likely to continue in the future.
Monday’s attacks come days after Israel’s army chief, Major General Oded Basiuk, presented the military’s operational outlook for 2023.
“We see that our course of action in Syria is an example of how continuous and persistent military action results in shaping and influencing the entire region,” Basiuk’s presentation said, according to Israeli military tweets.
“We will not accept Hezbollah 2.0 in Syria,” it said.
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