Syria accuses Israel of bombing Aleppo airport for 4th time in 2 weeks

IDF, meanwhile, foils more Hezbollah cells carrying out and attempting missile attacks from southern Lebanon

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

File: Algerian rescue aid arrives at Aleppo International Airport on February 7, 2023, one day after a deadly earthquake hit Syria and Turkey. (AFP)
File: Algerian rescue aid arrives at Aleppo International Airport on February 7, 2023, one day after a deadly earthquake hit Syria and Turkey. (AFP)

Israeli fighter jets carried out strikes on Aleppo International Airport on Wednesday afternoon, knocking it out of service, Syria’s state-run media said, marking the fourth such alleged attack in two weeks.

No injuries were caused in the attack, the SANA state news agency said.

According to SANA, the damage was limited to the airport’s runway, forcing it to be closed for repairs for several days.

There was no immediate comment on the strike from the Israel Defense Forces, which does not generally report on individual strikes in Syria.

The IDF did announce early Wednesday that it had struck several Syrian military targets after rockets were fired from Syria toward Israeli communities in the Golan Heights several hours earlier.

SANA, citing a Syrian military source, said eight soldiers were killed and another seven were wounded in the overnight Israeli airstrike in the Daraa area.

The strike on Wednesday afternoon marked the fourth time the runway at Aleppo Airport has been hit in recent weeks, following strikes on October 12, 14 and 22, and it was due to open on Wednesday after repairs following the last strike. Israel is believed to be stepping up efforts to prevent the shipment of advanced weapons from Iran to its various Middle East proxies, chief among them Hezbollah.

The airstrike on Aleppo Airport also came as skirmishes continued on the Lebanon border amid fears a new front could be opened as the Israeli military continues its war with Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip in the south.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group has fired dozens of anti-tank guided missiles, rockets and mortars at Israeli military positions and Israeli towns since the murderous October 7 Hamas onslaught. It also sent gunmen — some affiliated with Palestinian terror groups — to infiltrate northern Israel. Several drones have been intercepted over northern Israel.

Smoke rises from inside an Israeli army position which was hit by missiles launched by the Hezbollah terror group, as seen from Tair Harfa village, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, October 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

On Wednesday morning, the IDF said it had struck a terror cell in southern Lebanon preparing to carry out an anti-tank guided missile attack, in the Mount Dov area on the border.

A short while later, a missile was launched at an Israeli tank operating on the Lebanon border, close to the northern community of Avivim.

According to the IDF, there were no injuries in the attack. Many IDF tanks are equipped with the TROPHY active defense system, which can protect against missile attacks.

The IDF added that it was responding with artillery shelling at the source of the missile fire.

Later Wednesday, the IDF said it struck another terror cell in southern Lebanon that was preparing to carry out an attack, near the northern community of Zar’it.

The IDF said the cell was targeted with artillery shelling and a drone strike.

The military said the cell was “attempting to open fire,” without specifying if it was trying to launch rockets or missiles, or using light arms.

Israeli soldiers seen at a staging area near the Israeli border with Lebanon, northern Israel, October 22, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)

On Wednesday night, the IDF said it struck three more terror cells in southern Lebanon.

One cell was preparing an attack near the northern community of Dovev, and was struck by an IDF drone, and another near Arab al-Aramshe was struck by IDF tanks, the military said.

The IDF said it also struck a Hezbollah cell that fired a missile toward Israeli forces near Avivim earlier in the day.

In response to the attacks, the IDF said fighter jets struck and destroyed a Hezbollah military compound and an observation post belonging to the terror group in southern Lebanon.

Also Wednesday, the head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, met with top representatives of the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad groups in Beirut.

Images published showed Nasrallah meeting with Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri and Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nakhaleh.

In this photo released on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023, by the Hezbollah Media Relations Office, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, right, meets with Ziad al-Nakhaleh, the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, center, and Hamas deputy chief, Saleh al-Arouri, in Beirut, Lebanon. (Hezbollah Media Relations Office, via AP )

Amid the repeated attacks from Lebanon, the military and Defense Ministry have been evacuating 42 border communities and the city of Kiryat Shmona. Many residents in northern towns had already evacuated southward amid the escalating attacks.

In recent days, the IDF has reported striking more than 30 terror cells in southern Lebanon.

The tit-for-tat attacks have so far remained limited in scope, amid threats from Israel that Lebanon will suffer if Hezbollah steps up its attacks.

At least six Israeli soldiers, 42 Hezbollah gunmen and six Palestinian gunmen have been killed in the exchanges. One Israeli civilian was killed in a Hezbollah attack, and four Lebanese civilians and a journalist were also reported killed by Israeli shelling.

The attacks from Lebanon have come as Israel is waging war in Gaza against Hamas after the terror group’s shock assault on the country on October 7, in which it killed some 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped over 200 people and took them to the Strip.

The IDF has prepared a large ground offensive to eliminate Hamas, but military officials have admitted that conditions in the north have played into decision-making on when to put boots on the ground.

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