Damascus Airport closed for second day after strikes as Israel claims ‘advanced weapons’ being smuggled

Damascus Airport closed for second day after strikes as Israel claims ‘advanced weapons’ being smuggled
3 min read
11 June, 2022
Repairs began at Damascus Airport on Saturday, following Israeli strikes on the runways, as Israel said that advanced military systems were being smuggled through the civilian airport.
Damascus International Airport was closed as a result of the Israeli strikes [Getty]

Repairs began at Damascus Airport, which was closed for a second day on Saturday after Israeli air strikes, the Syrian regime transport ministry said.

The ministry confirmed in a statement that runways were out of service with serious damage after the attack.

Israel’s Kan public broadcaster on Saturday said that the Israeli air force had deliberately targeted runways to send a warning to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and its ally Iran that Israel would not tolerate the “smuggling of weapons systems on civilian planes”.

The Israeli broadcaster claimed that the runways were targeted to prevent Iranian attempts to smuggle advanced weapons system to its Lebanese ally Hezbollah, which has intervened in the Syrian conflict in support of the Assad regime.

Kan said that equipment meant to convert ordinary rockets into high-accuracy rockets was being smuggled to Hezbollah through Damascus Airport.

It said that while Israel had no way of knowing what was being transported in travellers’ luggage through the airport, Israel had to send a warning.

Satellite images posted on Twitter by the Israeli firm ISI showed three separate areas of what it said was "extensive damage to both military and civilian runways" caused by the strikes.

Since conflict broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes against its neighbour, targeting regime troops as well as Hezbollah and other Iran-backed militias who have fought against Syrian opposition forces on the side of the regime.

But rarely have such attacks caused major flight disruptions.

"Civil aviation and national companies are working... to repair the sizeable damage at the airport," the regime transport ministry said.

The regime’s SANA news agency said a civilian was wounded in the Israeli bombardment.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the missile strike carried out before dawn on Friday hit one of the runways as well as three arms depots near the airport belonging to Hezbollah, and other Iran-backed groups.

The conflict in Syria started with the regime’s brutal repression of peaceful protests. Iran and Russia both intervened in the conflict to prop up the Assad regime.

The war has killed over half a million people, mostly as a result of regime bombardment of civilian areas, and forced around half of the country's pre-war population from their homes.

Russia's military intervention in 2015 helped turn the war in favour of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. Moscow maintains military bases in the country.

Russia strongly condemned "the provocative Israeli attack against essential civilian infrastructure" on Friday night.

A spokesperson for Russia's foreign ministry warned that continued Israeli bombardment of Syrian territory would be "an absolutely unacceptable violation of international norms."

Agencies contributed to this report.