Syrian authorities attributed the attack to Israel, saying that the unidentified jets appeared from the direction of the Mediterranean Sea.
By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner
A Syrian military source cited by the regime-run SANA news agency noted that the strike on the Aleppo International Airport caused substantive “material damage” and effectively rendered the airstrip “out of service.”
In the second attack on Aleppo airport in six months, Syria military officials claimed the missiles had been intercepted by the country’s air defense systems at 2:07 AM yesterday morning.
The country’s Transportation Ministry subsequently confirmed that all air traffic was diverted to Latakia and Damascus.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the airstrikes in response to TV7’s request for comment.
Israeli intelligence figures have signaled to Iran in recent weeks that it must halt arms transfers to its terrorist proxies under the guise of humanitarian aid to the quake-stricken regions in the Arab Republic, or face retaliation from Israel. Despite those warnings, an intelligence source speaking to TV7 on condition of anonymity, said that “the Islamic Republic continued to use its civilian aircraft to smuggle weaponry into Syria.”
The Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned the attack as a “double crime” by hitting a civilian airport and “one of the primary channels for delivering humanitarian assistance” to people affected by last month’s earthquakes.
Tuesday’s attack was Israel’s third air strike in Syria this year, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Last year, Israel carried out more than 30 air strikes in Syria, said the SOHR. In January, the Syrian army said an Israeli missile attack briefly put Damascus International Airport out of service.
A rocket attack on Damascus in February, also blamed by Syria on Israel, hit an installation where Iranian officials were meeting to advance programs to develop drone or missile capabilities of Tehran’s allies in Syria.
Israel has for years been carrying out attacks against what it has described as Iran-linked targets in Syria, where the Ayatollah regime’s influence has grown since it began supporting President Bashar al-Assad in his country’s civil war that began in 2011. The Syrian leader has never publicly acknowledged that Iranian forces have operated on his behalf in the war, claiming Tehran has only military advisers on the ground.
Western intelligence officials say the Islamic Republic has stepped up aerial weapons shipments to its terrorist proxies, including Hezbollah, in attempts to evade IDF strikes on overland ground convoys. Strikes on Syrian airports and air bases have intensified in recent months.
Although officials rarely acknowledge responsibility for specific operations, Israel has acknowledged mounting hundreds of attacks on Iranian-linked targets in Syria – where the Islamic Republic’s forces and proxy have become entrenched in deployments aimed at attacking the Jewish State for almost a decade. Research centers for weapons development and munitions depots operated by IRGC have particularly been in the IDF’s crosshairs.
The United States and Israel have been increasingly concerned about Iran’s manufacturing of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, drones), and the possibility it would pass on those capabilities to regional proxies such as the heavily armed Hezbollah.
Iran’s proxy militias, led by Hezbollah, now control large areas of eastern, southern and northern Syria and in several suburbs around the capital.