(Beirut) The airport of Aleppo, in northern Syria, was targeted on Wednesday by a new Israeli strike which put it out of service and targeted in particular, according to an NGO, an arms depot belonging to groups pro-Iranians.
According to the Syrian Ministry of Defense, the strike which targeted the airport of Syria’s second city at dawn only caused material damage.
“At approximately 3:55 a.m. (8:55 p.m. Eastern Time), the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial assault using multiple missiles from the Mediterranean, west of Latakia, targeting Latakia International Airport. Aleppo,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Ministry of Transport announced that due to damage to runways and some facilities, “the airport has been taken out of service until repair operations are completed”.
All flights have been diverted to airports in Damascus and Latakia, according to the ministry.
The airport, the second largest in the country, was used in particular for the delivery of international humanitarian aid to Aleppo, hard hit by the earthquake which devastated several regions of Syria and Turkey on February 6.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), a UK-based NGO with an extensive network of sources in Syria, the strike targeted “the airport and an arms depot of groups nearby pro-Iranians”.
This weapons depot “has been completely destroyed,” the Observatory added.
Groups linked to Iran and its allies have great influence in Aleppo, of which they helped the Syrian government forces regain full control in December 2016, alongside the Russian army.
Asked by AFP about Wednesday’s strike, the Israeli army said, as usual, “not to comment on foreign media reports”.
This is the second time that Aleppo airport has been targeted by Israel this March. On March 7, a raid killed three people and put the airport out of service, according to the OSDH.
More than 80 planes loaded with humanitarian aid have landed at this airport since the earthquake, which killed nearly 6,000 people in Syria, according to the Ministry of Transport.
Aleppo airport had already remained closed for three days after an Israeli strike in September, according to official sources.
In early January, strikes had also targeted the airport of Damascus, the capital, targeting according to the OSDH “positions of Hezbollah and pro-Iranian groups”.
In recent years, Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria, against regime positions as well as Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces, allies of Damascus and sworn enemies of Israel.
Israel, a neighboring country to Syria, rarely comments on the strikes on a case-by-case basis, but says it wants to prevent Iran from establishing a foothold on its doorstep.
The Israeli military announced late Wednesday that a military drone had gone down in Syria without “fear of information coming out,” according to a statement.
Triggered in 2011 by the crackdown on pro-democracy protests, the war in Syria has claimed around 500,000 lives, devastated the country’s infrastructure and displaced millions of people.