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Syria says Israeli strikes on Damascus airport leave two dead

The Israeli army has warned it will continue to attack Syria’s civilian infrastructure in shadow war against Iran
Damascus International Airport has been the site of multiple Israeli attacks over the years (AFP)

The Israeli military attacked Syria’s national airport on Sunday night, putting it temporarily out of service and leaving two Syrian soldiers dead and two wounded, according to state media.  

A military source speaking to Syria’s state news agency, Sana, said: “The Israeli enemy carried out at 2am an aggression from the direction of Lake Tiberias targeting Damascus International Airport and its vicinity.”

The strike left material damages and briefly put the airport out of service, the source added.

The attack followed two other devastating attacks on Damascus International Airport in 2022. 

In June, the airport was bombarded by Israeli missiles, leaving three huge craters in each of its two operational runways.

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Just as the airport was repaired, Israeli missiles struck again in September, disabling its operations. 

Israel has conducted hundreds of air strikes in Syria since 2011, targeting government troops, Iran-backed fighters and Hezbollah members. However, targeting airports and paralysing aviation has become more frequent in recent months.

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

One of Syria’s few regional allies, Iran, condemned the attack in a statement reported by Sana. 

Nasser Kanaani, the spokesman of the Iranian foreign ministry, said that “the Islamic Republic of Iran condemns in the strongest terms the continued crimes and aggressions against Syrian sovereignty by the Israeli entity”.

Intensification of attacks

Israel has intensified its attacks on Syrian airports in a bid to disrupt growing flights between Tehran and Damascus, which it views as a corridor to transport weapons. 

According to a report from the Israeli Alma Research and Education Center, which is linked to the Israeli security establishment, Iranian airlines flew at least 110 times to Damascus International Airport in 2022. 

Iranian airlines also flew at least 39 times to Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut, according to the report. 

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Israel began to target Damascus airport and its environs at least as early as May 2013. More Israeli raids on the airport ensued in 2014, and later in 2017, 2018 and 2019, resulting in scores of casualties. 

In a series of tweets last week, the Israeli army highlighted that it will accelerate strikes targeting Iranian assets.

“We are conducting an accelerated campaign between campaigns⁠ - and not only in Syria. To this end, we have carried out dozens of strikes with hundreds of armaments in the past year,” it said.

“We see that our course of action in Syria is an example of how continuous and persistent military action leads to shaping and influencing the entire region,” it said, adding that “we will not accept Hezbollah 2.0 in Syria”.

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