Syria says Aleppo airport again forced to shut after second Israeli attack in a week

Syrian Transportation Ministry says airport out of service, days after attack blamed on Israel targeted runway and radio navigation system

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

A purported image shared online shows damage after an alleged Israeli strike targeted the Aleppo International Airport, September 6, 2022. (Social media)
A purported image shared online shows damage after an alleged Israeli strike targeted the Aleppo International Airport, September 6, 2022. (Social media)

Syria on Tuesday night accused Israel of striking Aleppo International Airport in northern Syria, taking it out of service for the second time in under a week.

Last Wednesday night, airstrikes attributed to Israel targeted the airport’s runway and radio navigation system. A consecutive airstrike that night also hit a similar navigation system at Damascus International Airport, near the Syrian capital.

The state-run SANA news agency said Tuesday that Israeli jets launched a number of missiles from over the Mediterranean Sea at the airport in northern Syria, causing damage to the runway and forcing it to be closed until repaired.

SANA added that Syrian air defenses managed to intercept several incoming missiles launched by Israeli jets. Syria regularly claims to intercept Israeli missiles, though military analysts doubt such assertions.

There were no immediate reports of injuries in the latest attack. Syrian media reports said loud explosions were heard in the area.

Syria’s Transportation Ministry announced that all flights were being redirected to the Damascus airport, as the Aleppo airport was “out of service” following the airstrike.

A satellite image taken Friday appeared to show that repairs to the runway at the airport after the damage in the Wednesday strike had been completed.

A radio navigation system, south of the runway, used to aid aircraft in staying on course, was also damaged in last week’s attack.

Syria, like many Middle East nations, has dual-use airports that include civilian and military sides.

This photo released by ImageSat International on September 2, 2022, shows repairs to the runway at Aleppo International Airport in northern Syria. (ImageSat International)

Aleppo is a major city in northern Syria, near its border with Turkey, and is an uncommon — though not unprecedented — target for reported Israeli airstrikes.

On Thursday, Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad issued a harsh warning to Israel over the airstrikes. He said Israel was “playing with fire” and risking a wider military conflict.

File: A fire is reportedly seen at the Aleppo International Airport in northern Syria following an airstrike attributed to Israel, August 31, 2022. (Social media)

As a rule, Israel’s military does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, but has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country. It says it also attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Lebanese Hezbollah.

Earlier this year, airstrikes attributed to Israel caused major damage to the Damascus International Airport, halting all air traffic for two weeks.

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.

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