Syria says Aleppo Airport to reopen several days after alleged Israeli airstrike

Satellite images reveal runway targeted at two locations, preventing large planes — such as Iranian cargo flights ferrying weapons to Hezbollah — from landing

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

This photo released by ImageSat International on March 8, 2022, shows Syria's Aleppo International Airport after an airstrike attributed to Israel. (ImageSat International)
This photo released by ImageSat International on March 8, 2022, shows Syria's Aleppo International Airport after an airstrike attributed to Israel. (ImageSat International)

Nearly three days after Aleppo International Airport was shuttered after its runway was damaged in an airstrike attributed to Israel, Syria’s Transportation Ministry announced it would reopen Friday morning.

In a statement carried by the state-run SANA news agency on Thursday, the ministry said repair works had been completed after the early Tuesday morning strike, and the airport would begin flights on Friday at 8 a.m. local.

On Wednesday, an Israeli intelligence and imagery firm published satellite images showing the damage caused to the runway, as well as the repair works.

According to ImageSat International (ISI), the damage caused to two locations near the middle of the runway was aimed at preventing large planes from landing, such as Iranian cargo flights ferrying weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Syria and Iran accused Israel of criminal behavior after Israeli Air Force jets allegedly carried out an airstrike at the airport.

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.

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

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 circulating on social media early Tuesday, allegedly from the site of the strike, showed 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 groups, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces. Israel views Iran’s expansion throughout Syria as a continued threat to its national security, and has conducted strikes across a broad range of targets in an effort to curb Iran’s forces in the region.

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 temporarily 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 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.

Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report.

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