War monitor says Syria’s two main airports still shut month after Israeli strikes

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Syria’s two main airports are still shut a month after simultaneous Israeli strikes put them out of service -- the longest such closure since the Syrian conflict began, a war monitor said Wednesday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported two Israeli strikes near the capital Damascus on Wednesday, targeting Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, a Damascus ally.

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Flights to and from Damascus and Aleppo airports have been suspended since the October 22 strikes damaged the runways.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory, said both airports “are closed” despite the completion of repairs.

Syrian authorities did not respond to an AFP request for comment on the extended closures.

Since Syria’s conflict began in 2011 after the government repressed pro-democracy protests, Israel has repeatedly targeted Damascus airport, but this is the first time it has been shut for a month, Abdel Rahman added.

Israel, which has launched hundreds of air strikes on its northern neighbor since 2011, primarily targeting Hezbollah fighters and other Iran-backed forces as well as Syrian army positions, has intensified attacks since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7.

On Wednesday morning, the Observatory, which has a vast network of sources inside Syria, said Israeli strikes targeted a center belonging to Hezbollah in the Damascus countryside.

Later in the day, it reported “new Israeli air strikes that targeted Hezbollah” on the outskirts of Damascus, without immediately reporting casualties.

Syrian state media did not report the morning attack.

But state news agency SANA, carrying a statement from a military source, later said that at around 3:10 pm (1210 GMT), “the Zionist enemy carried out an air attack with two missiles from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan, targeting some points in the vicinity of the city of Damascus.”

“Air defenses responded to the attack and downed one of the missiles,” the statement said, reporting “material damage.”

With both Damascus and Syria’s second airport Aleppo out of service, the transport ministry said flights have been re-routed to Latakia on the coast in the west.

Latakia airport, more than 300 kilometers (185 miles) from Damascus, is smaller and flights there are limited, including to Russia, Iran and Iraq.

A Russian military base at the airport protects it from Israeli attack, the Observatory said.

Israel rarely comments on individual strikes targeting Syria, but it has repeatedly said it will not allow arch-foe Iran, which backs President Bashar al-Assad’s government, to expand its presence there.

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Israeli ‘aggression’ puts Aleppo airport out of service: Syria defense ministry

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