Attack appears to be Israeli response to Iran smuggling missile components into Syria on civilian flights.
By Pesach Benson, United with Israel
An airstrike attributed to Israel on Friday caused significant damage to Damascus International Airport, forcing authorities to suspend flights to Syria’s primary gateway. The airstrike comes on the heels of accusations that Iran is smuggling missile components to Syria on civilian flights.
Till now, airstrikes on the airport focused exclusively on specific storage areas and planes, not the airport itself.
According to the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, the strike made the main runway unusable and destroyed terminal arrival halls used by Iranian operatives, as well as communication towers, unspecified airport infrastructure and three weapons depots belonging to Hezbollah.
According to the SOHR, the terminals were designated as VIP areas for Iranian personnel and for storing the smuggled missile components. It added that one person was injured in the strike.
Israel’s Kan News reported that the smuggled components were intended to convert conventional missiles into precision weapons.
A number of flights have since been rerouted to Aleppo International Airport, 387 km (240 miles) north of Damascus.
New imagery of #Damascus international Airport shows extensive damage to both military & civilian runways from this morning’s strikes.This comes after Syria’s Ministry of Transport halted flights to and from the airport. pic.twitter.com/ng5Ui6vyEn
— ImageSat Intl. (@ImageSatIntl) June 10, 2022
In May, the IDF accused the son-in-law of assassinated Iran Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani of endangering lives by smuggling missile components on civilian flights.
The IDF’s Arabic language spokesman, Avichay Adraee, said in a series of tweets that Reza Hashim Safi a-Din — a cousin and possible successor to Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah — is masterminding the smuggling. Safi a-Din is also married to Soleimani’s daughter, Zeinab.
Within Hezbollah, Safi a-Din is generally seen as second to Nasrallah. He was placed on the U.S. State Department’s list of designated terrorists in 2017
Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq in 2020.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned the attack on the airport, accusing Israel of endangering civilian lives.
“We are compelled to reiterate that the ongoing Israeli shelling of the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic, in violation of the basic norms of international law, is absolutely unacceptable. We strongly condemn Israel’s provocative attack on the most important object of the Syrian civilian infrastructure,” Zakharova said.
“Irresponsible actions create serious risks for international air traffic and put the lives of innocent people in real danger,” she continued, adding that “we demand from the Israeli side to stop this vicious practice.”
Dr. Tallha Abdulrazaq, who teaches at Britain’s Exeter University, tweeted, “I’m seeing a lot of pro-Assad, pro-Iran, pro-Russia outrage about Israel bombing Damascus Airport. They shed no tears when Assad devastated Syria, destroying millions of lives. Now’s your chance, Assadists – go on, ‘resist’ Israeli aggression if you can.”
Within the past week an air strike attributed to Israel also hit a weapons factory south of Damascus while Israeli tanks struck a Syrian army position on the edge of the Israeli-Syrian demilitarized zone near Quneitra. According to a Syrian opposition radio station, Israel also dropped leaflets warning Syrians not to enter the demilitarized zone.
Israeli officials acknowledge in a general way that its Air Force has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria to prevent Iran from entrenching itself and delivering weapons to Hezbollah and other proxies.