Syria says Aleppo airport to reopen, two days after alleged Israeli airstrike

Syrian foreign ministry condemns ‘cowardly’ attack; Israel believed trying to counter Iran’s use of commercial flights to bring military supplies to Hezbollah

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

File: Employees unload an aircraft after it landed at the Aleppo airport, northern Syria, March 11, 2023. (AFP)
File: Employees unload an aircraft after it landed at the Aleppo airport, northern Syria, March 11, 2023. (AFP)

Less than two days after Aleppo International Airport was shuttered when its runway was damaged in an airstrike attributed to Israel, Syria’s Transportation Ministry announced Tuesday evening it would reopen overnight.

In a statement carried by the state-run SANA news agency, the ministry said repair works had been completed after the early Monday morning strike, and the airport would begin flights at midnight between Tuesday and Wednesday.

Satellite imagery on Monday showed a large crater on the runway, which is believed to be aimed at preventing large planes from landing, such as Iranian cargo flights ferrying weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

SANA said that at around 4:30 a.m. on Monday, Israeli Air Force warplanes fired their missiles from over the Mediterranean Sea, west of the coastal Syrian city of Latakia, and targeted the airport.

Syria’s foreign ministry later condemned the Israeli strikes, calling them “cowardly.”

It accused Israel of “threatening freedom of aircraft movement” and “the safety of international civil aviation,” in a statement carried by SANA.

There were no reports of injuries in the airstrike.

It would be the fifth time in under a year that alleged Israeli strikes have put the Aleppo airport out of service, with a similar attack taking place in May 2023, two in March of this year, and one in September 2022.

Israel is believed to be targeting Syria’s airports to counter Iran’s growing use of commercial flights to bring military supplies into the country, which are later trucked into Lebanon to be used by the Hezbollah terror group.

While Israel’s military does not, as a rule, comment on specific strikes in Syria, it has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country, over the last decade.

The Israeli military says it attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Hezbollah. Additionally, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

The last alleged Israeli sortie over Syria was carried out on August 21, when fighter jets reportedly carried out strikes against targets in Damascus, wounding one Syrian soldier.

AFP contributed to this report.

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