In an unusually bitter condemnation, Russia attacked Israel on Friday after an attack before dawn, which was caused by Israel at the airport in Damascus.
An Israeli satellite intelligence company has released images of extensive damage to the runways, which it says has disrupted the entire airport.
On Friday night, the Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the “cruel practice” of Israeli attacks on civilian infrastructure, which the Russian ministry said was “provocative” and “contrary to the basic rules of international law”.
Israel regularly attacks Iranian facilities and convoys in Syria and relies on the “de-conflict mechanism” agreed with Moscow to avoid direct confrontation with Russian forces there. Israel’s relations with Russia have been tense over the conflict in Ukraine, but Russia’s bitter comments on Friday about the Syrian attack underscored growing friction.
Syrian state media reported that Israeli planes bombed targets south of Damascus around 4:20 a.m. Friday, injuring one person and causing property damage. A few hours later, the country’s Ministry of Transport announced that it would suspend inbound and outbound flights at the airport, citing technical errors.
Israel did not officially comment on the incident.
ImageSat International (ISI) said the strikes had “completely disrupted” operations on the asphalt. It appeared that each runway was bombed three times.
Separate rocket attacks in April and May damaged other parts of one of the runways in attacks caused by Israel. According to the CIA, these attacks significantly shortened the runway length and prevented large aircraft from landing.
The Pakistani intelligence service said Friday’s attack had “completely disrupted the airport pending repairs”.
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, a spokesman for the Israeli army in Arabic claimed that the son-in-law of the assassinated head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, was behind such operations.
Avishai Adraee accused Iran and Hezbollah of “endangering civilians” by smuggling weapons via civilian planes to Damascus International Airport to “keep the secret”.
Israel has carried out hundreds of attacks on targets in Syria over the years, but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations. It says it is targeting Iran-linked militia bases, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has deployed fighters in Syria to support Assad’s government forces, as well as arms supplies believed to be destined for various deputies.
Israeli attacks in Syrian airspace, largely controlled by Russia, continue, although relations with Moscow have worsened in recent weeks. Israel is at odds with Russia as it increasingly supports Ukraine as it seeks to maintain freedom of movement in the skies over Syria.
Late Monday night, Syrian state media reported that Israeli missiles targeted the Syrian army’s positions south of Damascus, causing damage but no casualties. Also this week, Israeli tanks allegedly bombed a Syrian military site in the demilitarized part of the Golan Heights.