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Syria claims Israeli air strikes hit Damascus airport, kills 2 soldiers

Jerusalem rarely comments on air attacks but it is known to have attacked the airport in the past, to stop arms shipments to Syrian proxies

Illustrative - A streak of light is seen in the night sky in the vicinity of the Syrian capital Damascus during what Syrian authorities said was an Israeli air strike, in this handout released by state news agency SANA on Feb. 24, 2020. (Photo: SANA/Handout via Reuters)

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported that the Israeli Air Force targeted Damascus International Airport on Sunday night, killing two soldiers and wounding two others and putting the airport temporally out of service. 

SANA reported a military source as saying that the strike occurred around 2 a.m., with “barrages of missiles targeting Damascus International Airport and its surroundings.”

An official notice released by the Syrian aviation authorities stated that both of the airport’s runways were closed following the attack. A similar attack last June put the airport out of commission for two weeks. 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a United Kingdom-based human rights monitoring group, reported that the Israeli raids hit both the airport and an arms depot close to the facility, south of Damascus. The group reported that at least four people were killed in the attack.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

Israel has also hit other Syrian airports, including Aleppo International Airport in September, putting the airport out of service for days. Aleppo was once Syria’s largest commercial center.

Israel has conducted hundreds of raids on Iran-allied targets inside government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years but rarely acknowledges or discusses the operations. Israel does not target Syrian assets, but rather the bases of Iran-affiliated armed groups, such as Hezbollah – the most significant terrorist group in Lebanon – which has sent thousands of fighters to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against his own people.

Speaking on Al Jazeera, a Qatari state-owned media broadcaster, political columnist Rami Khouri, a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Middle East Initiative, described this latest strike as possibly an attempt “by Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government to signal to the Iranians, Syrians and the Russians that Israel is going to maintain its policy of striking any target that it thinks might be a danger to its own security.”

Netanyahu won Israel’s November election and was sworn in as prime minister for his sixth term on Dec. 29.

“The important thing here to remember is that the United States government, through the Congress, passed laws years ago guaranteeing that Israel will be militarily superior to any combination of foes or enemies around them. So Israel has impunity to carry out attacks anywhere it wants in the region and nobody has been able to stop them,” said Khouri.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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