A file picture of a plane at the International Airport in Damascus, Syria. EFE/EPA/FILE/YOUSSEF BADAWI

Israeli strikes force closure of Syria’s two main airports

Damascus, Oct 12 (EFE).- The Syrian government said on Thursday that Israeli forces have conducted airstrikes on the country’s two main airports, in Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo, putting both airfields out of service, according to the state news agency SANA.

Around 1.50pm local time, Israeli aircraft “simultaneously” targeted both airports, causing significant damage to the runways and resulting in suspension of flights, the agency said, citing a military official who was not named.

The official underlined that the attack was a “desperate attempt by the Israeli enemy to divert attention from the crimes it is committing in Gaza and the substantial losses it is enduring at the hands of the Palestinian resistance.”

Meanwhile, the nonprofit Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported “loud explosions” in both cities as “Israeli airstrikes struck Aleppo and Damascus airports.”

“Plumes of smoke were seen rising from the targeted sites, where (Syrian) air defenses attempted to intercept the airstrikes. However, no casualties have been reported yet,” the UK-based war monitor said.

Israel often launches airstrikes on Syrian territory, mainly targeting militia groups allied with the Syrian regime.

However, Thursday’s airstrikes marked the first major offensive on them since the conflict between Israel and Hamas forces began in Gaza on Saturday.

According to SOHR, so far this year, Israeli forces have carried out at least 34 attacks, including 26 airstrikes, on various parts of Syrian territory, resulting in the destruction of 71 targets and the deaths of 72 people, predominantly combatants.

Some of these attacks had previously temporarily disrupted the operations of the Damascus and Aleppo airports.

Israeli attacks in Syria mainly target the Lebanese militia group Hezbollah, which has launched several rocket attacks against Israel from southern Lebanon in recent times.

Israeli strikes have also targeted Iranian militias, which have increased their presence on the Syrian border at the Golan Heights this week.

Israel perceives the presence of Hezbollah and other Iran-backed militia groups in Syria as a threat to its security.

It remains unclear whether Thursday’s Israeli strikes were aimed at these militia groups, some of which may seek to get involved in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. EFE