Syria, Iran accuse Israel of ‘double crime’ after jets strike Aleppo airport

Damascus alleges southern neighbor destroyed civilian infrastructure as well as key facility needed to import aid for victims of deadly February earthquake

This satellite photo from Planet Labs PBC shows the damage after an alleged Israeli strike targeting the Aleppo International Airport in Aleppo, Syria, September 7, 2022. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)
This satellite photo from Planet Labs PBC shows the damage after an alleged Israeli strike targeting the Aleppo International Airport in Aleppo, Syria, September 7, 2022. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

Syria and Iran accused Israel of criminal behavior after Israeli Air Force jets allegedly carried out an airstrike at the airport in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry decried a “double crime,” saying the strike targeted both “a civilian airport… and one of the key channels for the arrival of humanitarian aid” for victims of the deadly earthquake that devastated the region in February.

Syrian Transport Ministry official Suleiman Khalil told AFP that “it is no longer possible to receive aid flights until the damage has been repaired,” adding that the strike had put the runway out of service.

Iran, an ally of Syria, condemned the strike, calling it a “crime against humanity.”

“While the Syrian earthquake victims in Aleppo are experiencing difficult conditions, the Zionist regime is attacking Aleppo airport,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanani said in a statement.

According to a report in Syria’s state news agency SANA, local air defenses were activated but it was not clear if there were any interceptions. Syria regularly claims to have intercepted Israeli missiles, though military analysts doubt such assertions. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

A screenshot from Twitter showing a fire at Aleppo airport following an alleged Israeli airstrike, March 7, 2023. (Screenshot/Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Short clips and photos allegedly from the site of the strike, circulating on social media, show a fire at the airport.

There was no comment from the Israel Defense Forces, in line with its policy of not generally commenting on air raids in Syria. Israel is believed to have carried out hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, including attacks on the Damascus and Aleppo airports, but it rarely acknowledges or discusses the operations.

Israel has acknowledged, however, that it targets bases of Iran-allied militant groups, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to support President Bashar Assad’s forces. Israel views Iran’s expansion throughout Syria as a continued threat to its national security, and has conducted these strikes across a broad range of targets in an effort to curb Iran’s forces in the region.

SANA, citing a military source, said early Tuesday that “the Israeli enemy carried out an air attack from the Mediterranean [Sea]… targeting the Aleppo International Airport.” The source said the airport sustained “material damage,” and was not currently operating.

Aleppo, which suffered widespread destruction in Syria’s civil war, was heavily damaged in the deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria last month. A number of countries have since sent aid shipments to the city’s airport, including Iran.

The last airstrike in Syria attributed to Israel was last month, when Syrian state media said an airstrike targeted a residential neighborhood in Damascus, killing five people and leaving 15 others hurt.

In January, the Syrian army said Israel’s military fired missiles toward the capital’s international airport, putting it out of service and killing two soldiers. That attack came amid Israeli fears the Damascus airport was being used to funnel Iranian weaponry into the country.

Last August, Syria accused Israel of being behind two consecutive airstrikes at the Aleppo International Airport and a site near the Damascus Airport, as Israel was said to be ramping up its efforts to target airports to counter Tehran’s growing use of commercial flights to bring military supplies into the country.

Agencies and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report

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