Syria says repairing airport damaged in Israeli strikes

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Repairs have begun at the airport in Syria’s capital, which was closed for a second day Saturday after Israeli airstrikes, Syria’s transport ministry said.

The ministry confirmed in a statement that runways were out of service with serious damage after the attack.

Since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes against its neighbor, targeting government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and fighters from Lebanon’s Shia militant group Hezbollah.

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But rarely have such attacks caused major flight disruptions.

“Civil aviation and national companies are working... to repair the sizeable damage at the airport,” the ministry said.

The official SANA news agency said a civilian was wounded in the Israeli bombardment.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the missile strike carried out before dawn on Friday hit one of the runways as well as three arms depots near the airport belonging to Hezbollah, and other Iran-backed groups.

The Observatory, which relies on a network of sources within Syria, said the strikes wounded an undetermined number of people.

According to the Observatory, the damaged runway was the only one still operational after an Israeli strike last year put another one out of service.

Satellite images posted on Twitter by the Israeli firm ISI showed three separate areas of what it said was “extensive damage to both military and civilian runways” caused by the strikes.

Russia strongly condemned “the provocative Israeli attack against essential civilian infrastructure” on Friday night.

A spokesperson for Russia’s foreign ministry warned that continued Israeli bombardment of Syrian territory would be “an absolutely unacceptable violation of international norms”

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian spoke by phone and also condemned the attack, SANA reported.

Syria “will defend itself by all legitimate means” against Israeli attacks, Mekdad said.

While Israel rarely comments on individual strikes, it has acknowledged carrying out hundreds, in what the Israeli military says is necessary to prevent its arch foe Iran from gaining a foothold on its doorstep.

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