22 Mar 2023, 14:08

Israel strike damages Syria's Aleppo airport: defence ministry

DAMASCUS, March 22, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - An Israeli air strike hit Syria's Aleppo airport on Wednesday causing damage, the defence ministry said, without mentioning any casualties, in the second such attack on the facility this month.

The airport in Syria's second city has been a major conduit for relief flights since a February 6 earthquake devastated swathes of southeastern Turkey and neighbouring Syria.

"Around 3:55 am (0055 GMT), the Israeli enemy carried out an air attack... targeting Aleppo international airport, leading to some material damage," a defence ministry statement said.

"A number of missiles" were fired from the Mediterranean west of the coastal city of Latakia, it added.

Transport ministry official Suleiman Khalil told AFP technicians were assessing the damage.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strike targeted "the airport compound and a weapons depot belonging to pro-Iranian forces on the airport's perimeter." The Britain-based war monitor said the depot had been "completely destroyed".

On March 7, three people were killed in an Israeli strike on the airport that brought air traffic, including relief flights, to a halt. The airport reopened several days later.

More than 80 aid flights have landed in Aleppo with relief supplies following the earthquake, according to the transport ministry.

Since civil war erupted in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes against its neighbour, primarily targeting positions of the Syrian army and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies.

The Israeli military rarely comments on individual strikes against Syria, but has vowed repeatedly to keep up its air campaign to stop arch foe Iran consolidating its presence.

Israel has attacked Aleppo and Damascus airports several times in recent years.

A strike on Aleppo airport last September put it out of service for a few days. That attack targeted a warehouse used by Iran-backed militias, the Observatory said at the time.

Earlier this month, Israeli air strikes targeting a weapons depot in Syria killed an army officer and two pro-Iran fighters, the Observatory said.

Last month, an Israeli air strike killed 15 people in a Damascus district housing state security agencies.