Russia said preparing UN resolution condemning Israel for Damascus airport attack

Security Council draft proposal reportedly says strike violated international law, undermines regional stability and Syrian sovereignty; Israeli officials doubt it’ll pass

Damage is seen at Syria's Damascus International Airport, after an airstrike attributed to Israel, June 12, 2022. (SANA)
Damage is seen at Syria's Damascus International Airport, after an airstrike attributed to Israel, June 12, 2022. (SANA)

Russia is putting together a proposal for a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel, which it blames for a recent attack on Damascus Airport that put the site out of commission for several days, the Kan public broadcaster reported Sunday.

Israeli officials confirmed to the station that Russia is working on the resolution but doubted that it would gain much support. The US also has veto power at the UNSC.

A draft memo declares that the attack was carried out against international law, undermines regional stability, and violates Syrian sovereignty as well as that of “other countries,” an apparent reference to the airspace from which the attack was launched, according to the report. Although Israel has not confirmed it was behind the strike and therefore the details remain unclear, Lebanon has in the past complained to the United Nations after Israeli jets allegedly violated its airspace to carry out an airstrike on targets in Syria.

The memo blames the attack on Israel and says it must be held responsible. It also claims that damage to the airport was a significant blow to humanitarian assistance for Syria.

However, one Israeli official noted to Kan that “Iran is continuing to use Syrian territory and the airport to smuggle weapons.”

Last week Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister summoned Israel’s ambassador, Alexander Ben Zvi, to express Moscow’s concern over the strike on the airport.

Repair works are seen at Syria’s Damascus International Airport, after an airstrike attributed to Israel, June 12, 2022. (SANA)

According to Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Mikhail Bogdanov told Ben Zvi that Moscow was not pleased with the justifications offered by Israel thus far, and that it was waiting for additional clarifications “within the framework of the existing Russian-Israeli mechanism to prevent dangerous incidents in Syria.”

The attack damaged the runway and airport buildings, and disrupted the flow of humanitarian supplies to Syrian civilians, Russia said.

Over the years, Israel has repeatedly charged Iran with smuggling weapons and missile-improving systems from Tehran to its Lebanese terror proxy Hezbollah using flights via Syria.

Generally, relatively large weapons are thought to be smuggled via Syria on Iranian cargo airlines, which frequently land at Damascus International and the Tiyas, or T-4, airbase, outside of the central Syrian city of Palmyra. The weaponry is then believed to be stored in warehouses in the area before being trucked to Lebanon.

Syria’s Transportation Ministry initially said last week the airport would remain closed for two days after “some technical equipment stopped functioning at the airport.”

In a later statement, it said the airport would be closed for a longer period, citing “sizable damage” to the runways and the second terminal building. On Sunday, the state-run SANA broadcaster published images of repair works.

The shuttering of the airport is preventing all cargo and civilian flights from Tehran — and elsewhere — from arriving for the time being. Most flights are now being redirected to Aleppo’s airport, and it remains to be seen if Iran will attempt to smuggle weapons there too, until the Damascus airport is repaired.

Passengers queue at the Syria’s Aleppo airport after flights were diverted from Damascus aiport following a strike last week, on June 15, 2022 (AFP)

Israel has made no official comment on the incident, in line with a years-long policy. But in an apparent reference, IDF chief Aviv Kohavi said last week that in a potential war, “any national infrastructure that supports terror is a target for attack.”

Russia lashed out at Israel in the wake of the attack, saying it condemned the “vicious practice” of Israeli strikes on civilian infrastructure, which it said were “provocative” and “in violation of the basic norms of international law.”

Even before that unusually bitter condemnation, Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as it has increasingly supported Ukraine after Russia invaded, while seeking to maintain freedom of movement in Syria’s skies, which are largely controlled by Russia.

Still, Israeli officials have vowed to carry on the campaign to prevent Hezbollah and other groups on Israel’s northern frontier from arming themselves with advanced and accurate weapons, regardless of Russian disapproval or apparent Iranian attempts to circumvent Israel’s actions.

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