Rocket streaks over Damascus during an Israeli airstrike in 2020. Photo: Reuters

Israeli airstrikes targeting Damascus and Aleppo international airports, Syria’s largest, damaged the runways, causing both locations to cease operations.

“Israel carried out a missile strike on Damascus and Aleppo international airports at 5:25 a.m., killing one civilian employee and injuring one. The runways were damaged, causing both airports to be closed.” operations,” Syrian national news agency SANA said today.

An anonymous source in the Syrian military said that Israeli aircraft launched missiles from the direction of the Mediterranean and the Golan Heights. The Syrian Ministry of Transport then announced that all flights to these two locations would redirect to Latakia International Airport.

This is the second time Damascus and Aleppo airports, Syria’s largest civil aviation facilities, have been attacked at the same time since the Israel-Hamas conflict broke out earlier this month. The Israeli army previously often attacked individual targets instead of simultaneously attacking Syrian airports.

Since fighting broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has continuously attacked targets in its northern neighbor, including the positions of the Syrian government army as well as Hezbollah and Iran-backed militia groups.

The airstrike campaign targeting Damascus International Airport and other civil aviation infrastructure in Syria has been stepped up by Israel since 2022 to disrupt the supply of weapons from Iran to Syria and Lebanon.

Location of the capital Damascus and major cities of Syria. Graphics: AP

Location of the capital Damascus and major cities of Syria. Graphics: AP

Israel rarely comments on air strikes but has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of attacks in Syria. Israeli officials declared that the airstrike campaign was necessary to prevent Iran, a country that Israel considers its “archenemy,” from consolidating its strategic position in Syria.