‘Heavy’ damage to Damascus airport confirmed after Israeli attack
Syria’s transport ministry says runways at Damascus International Airport remain out of service after missile strike.
Syria state media has confirmed that Damascus International Airport has suffered major damage – including to runways – following an Israeli missile attack.
The Syrian transport ministry said in a statement on Saturday that runways remained out of service at the capital’s airport following the attack on Friday, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.
“Landing and departing flights were suspended today till further notification as a result of the Israeli aggression, since it caused heavy damages to the airstrips in several localities and to the navigation lights in addition to the damages [that] occurred in the airport lobby,” SANA quoted from a ministry statement.
The ministry said that flights are expected to resume “in corporation with air carriers” as soon as repair work is concluded, SANA reported.
The airport was targeted by a volley of missiles fired from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights at approximately 4:20am local time (01:20 GMT) on Friday, state media reported.
Israel has carried out hundreds of air raids against its neighbour since war broke out in Syria in 2011, targeting government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and fighters from Lebanon’s Shia group Hezbollah.
While Israel rarely comments on individual attacks, it has acknowledged carrying out hundreds in Syria that it has said are necessary to prevent regional rival Iran from gaining a foothold on its doorstep.
Rarely have such attacks caused major flight disruptions.
The transport ministry statement was the first to describe the extent of damage from Friday’s air raid.
“Civil aviation and national companies are working … to repair the sizeable damage at the airport,” the ministry said, adding that a terminal building was also hit.
The SANA news agency said the Israeli bombardment also wounded a civilian.
Syria’s ally, Russia, strongly condemned “the provocative Israeli attack against essential civilian infrastructure”.
A spokesperson for Russia’s foreign ministry called such attacks “an absolutely unacceptable violation of international norms”.
Russia’s military intervention in 2015 helped to turn the war in favour of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and Moscow has continued to maintain military bases in the country.
The more-than-a-decade-long conflict in Syria started with the brutal repression of peaceful protests against al-Assad’s rule that then escalated, pulling in foreign powers and fighters.
Nearly half a million people have been killed and approximately half of the country’s pre-war population have been forced to flee from their homes.
Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian spoke by phone and also condemned the missile attack, SANA reported.
Syria “will defend itself by all legitimate means” against Israeli attacks, Mekdad said.