In an unusually bitter condemnation, Russia criticized Israel on Friday following a pre-dawn attack blamed on Israel at Damascus airport.
An Israeli satellite intelligence company has released images showing extensive damage to the runways, which it said has disrupted the entire airport.
On Friday evening, the Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the “vicious practice” of Israeli strikes on civilian infrastructure, which it said were “provocative” and “violating the basic rules of international law.”
Israel frequently targets Iranian facilities and convoys in Syria, and relies on the “deconfliction mechanism” agreed upon with Moscow to avoid direct confrontation with Russian forces there. Israel’s relations with Russia have been strained by the conflict in Ukraine, however, bitter comments from Russia on Friday about the Syrian strike underlined the growing friction.
Syrian state media reported that Israeli planes bombed targets south of Damascus at around 4:20 am on Friday, injuring one person and causing material damage. Hours later, the country’s Ministry of Transport announced that it would do so Suspension Incoming and outgoing flights at the airport, indicating technical malfunctions.
Israel did not make any official comment on the incident.
ImageSat International (ISI) said the strikes had “completely disrupted” operations on the tarmac. It seemed that each runway was bombed three times.
In separate missile strikes in April and May, other parts of one of the runways were damaged in attacks attributed to Israel. According to the CIA, these strikes significantly shortened the length of the runway and prevented large aircraft from landing.
Pakistan’s intelligence agency said Friday’s strike had “completely disrupted the airport until repair”.
Israel has repeatedly accused Iran of smuggling weapons and missile improvement systems from Tehran to its Lebanese terrorist proxy Hezbollah, using civilian flights through Syria.
Last month, an Israeli army spokesman in Arabic claimed that the son-in-law of assassinated Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani was behind such operations.
Avishai Adraee accused Iran and Hezbollah of “endangering civilians” by smuggling weapons via civilian flights to Damascus International Airport in order to “maintain secrecy.”
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets in Syria over the years, but it rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations. It says it targets Iranian-allied militia bases, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has deployed fighters in Syria to support Assad’s government forces, as well as arms shipments believed to be destined for various proxies.
Israeli strikes in Syrian airspace, which is largely controlled by Russia, have continued, even as relations with Moscow have deteriorated in recent weeks. Israel found itself at odds with Russia as it increasingly supported Ukraine as it sought to maintain freedom of movement in the skies over Syria.
Syrian state media reported, on Monday evening, that Israeli missiles targeted Syrian army positions south of Damascus, causing damage but no injuries. This week too, Israeli tanks reportedly bombed a Syrian military site In the demilitarized part of the Golan Heights.
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