Satellite images show major damage at Damascus airport following airstrikes
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Satellite images show major damage at Damascus airport following airstrikes

Warehouses and headquarter buildings destroyed in attack last Thursday that was blamed on Israel

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

  • Satellite images purporting to show damage to Damascus International Airport in February 13 airstrikes attributed to Israel, which were released by ImageSat International, on February 17, 2020. (ImageSat International)
    Satellite images purporting to show damage to Damascus International Airport in February 13 airstrikes attributed to Israel, which were released by ImageSat International, on February 17, 2020. (ImageSat International)
  • Satellite images purporting to show damage to Damascus International Airport in February 13 airstrikes attributed to Israel, which were released by ImageSat International, on February 17, 2020. (ImageSat International)
    Satellite images purporting to show damage to Damascus International Airport in February 13 airstrikes attributed to Israel, which were released by ImageSat International, on February 17, 2020. (ImageSat International)
  • Satellite images purporting to show damage to Damascus International Airport in February 13 airstrikes attributed to Israel, which were released by ImageSat International, on February 17, 2020. (ImageSat International)
    Satellite images purporting to show damage to Damascus International Airport in February 13 airstrikes attributed to Israel, which were released by ImageSat International, on February 17, 2020. (ImageSat International)
  • Satellite images purporting to show damage to Damascus International Airport in February 13 airstrikes attributed to Israel, which were released by ImageSat International, on February 17, 2020. (ImageSat International)
    Satellite images purporting to show damage to Damascus International Airport in February 13 airstrikes attributed to Israel, which were released by ImageSat International, on February 17, 2020. (ImageSat International)

Satellite images released Monday showed significant damage to warehouses and office buildings at Damascus International Airport, following airstrikes last Thursday that were attributed to Israel.

The photographs, released by the private satellite imagery analysis firm ImageSat, showed that several warehouses, apparently used to store weapons that were flown into Syria from Iran, were destroyed in the strikes along with multiple buildings used as headquarters for the operations at the site.

In addition, a hangar was damaged in the attack, which Syria blamed on Israel. ImageSat said the shelter was “probably used for storing ammunition or [surface-to-air missiles].”

At approximately 11:45 p.m. last Thursday, incoming missiles struck five weapons depots near Damascus International Airport, including an attack on a military position south of the Syrian capital, the al-Arabiya news channel reported, citing unidentified sources.

Satellite images purporting to show damage to Damascus International Airport in February 13 airstrikes attributed to Israel, which were released by ImageSat International, on February 17, 2020. (ImageSat International)

The attack came hours after a shipment — reportedly of munitions — arrived at the airport from Tehran, according to flight data.

Four members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and three Syrian soldiers were killed in the strikes, according to a Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

Both Syria and the Observatory said Israel was behind the strike. The Israeli military did not comment on the matter, in accordance with its long-standing policy of neither confirming nor denying such operations abroad.

A fireball lights up the night sky near Damascus during an attack on a target near the capital on February 13, 2020. (Screen capture: Al-Ikhbariyah Syria TV)

Asked about Israel’s alleged involvement in a Friday morning interview to Radio Haifa, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “I don’t comment on one operation or another.

“I don’t know what happened at night. Maybe it was the Belgian air force,” he quipped.

Videos posted to social media by residents of the area showed explosions in mid-air lighting up the night, apparently as Syrian anti-aircraft missiles burst in the sky.

The Syrian state media outlet SANA said the country’s air defenses intercepted many of the incoming missiles, an oft-heard Syrian claim that most defense analysts dismiss as false boasts.

Earlier on Thursday, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps threatened to target both Israel and the United States if they “make the slightest error.”

The late-night strikes came just over a week after a series of strikes on several targets near Damascus reportedly killed 23 pro-Iranian fighters.

The Israel Defense Forces did not acknowledge carrying out the strikes, but Syrian state media blamed Israel, and days later Defense Minister Naftali Bennett seemingly took credit for it, saying Israel had carried out an attack against Iran in the previous week and noting: “Foreign media reported this week that 23 Syrians and Iranians were killed there. Those are large numbers and we will do more and more.”

Israel has long maintained that it will not tolerate efforts by Iran — a close ally of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad — to establish a permanent military presence in Syria and would take steps to thwart such entrenchment. Israel accuses Iran of seeking to set up a military presence in Syria that could be used as a launchpad for attacks against the Jewish state.

An Israeli military position, right, is seen on the top of Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, where the borders between Israel, Syria and Lebanon meet. April 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Though Israeli officials generally refrain from taking responsibility for specific strikes in Syria, they have acknowledged conducting hundreds to thousands of raids in the country since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

These have overwhelmingly been directed against Iran and its proxies, notably the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, but the IDF has also carried out strikes on Syrian air defenses when those batteries have fired at Israeli jets.

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