Syria says Israeli jets strike Aleppo airport, shutting it down

State media says Israel Air Force struck from Mediterranean Sea, inflicting damage to site; no immediate reports of injuries

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)
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)

The Israeli Air Force allegedly carried out an airstrike at the airport in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo in the early hours of Tuesday morning, according to Syrian state media.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, but Syria’s state news agency, SANA, said the airport has been shut down due to the damage sustained from the strike. According to the report, Syria’s air defenses were activated but it was not clear if there were any interceptions. Syria regularly claims to intercept Israeli missiles, though military analysts doubt such assertions.

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.

Late 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.

This satellite image taken September 1, 2022, shows damage caused in an airstrike attribued to Israel at the Aleppo International Airport in northern Syria. (Planet Labs PBC via Aurora Intel)

A Western intelligence source and a Syrian military defector told the Reuters news agency in September that Tehran has taken to flying small weapons and other military supplies on regular civilian flights. Supplies transferred include precision-guided missiles, night vision equipment and UAVs, all of which are small enough to load onto civilian planes, they said.

Iran has increasingly relied on flights as its previous ground routes via Iraq have become unreliable amid local turf wars and internal conflicts, the report said.

Generally, relatively large weapons are thought to be smuggled via Syria on Iranian cargo airlines, which frequently land at Damascus International and the Tiyas, or T-4, airbase, outside of the central Syrian city of Palmyra.

The weaponry is then believed to be stored in warehouses in the area before being trucked to Lebanon.

Agencies contributed to this report

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