Israel conducted several airstrikes against the Aleppo International Airport in northwestern Syria, hours before its missiles struck targets southeast of Capital Damascus Wednesday night.
Syria’s state news agency (SANA) reported material damage at the airport, saying, "At around 20:00 hours (17:00 GMT), the Israeli enemy targeted Aleppo International Airport with missile fire, causing material damage at the heart of the facility.”
The UK-based war monitor, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that four Israeli missiles had targeted the runway and depots at the airport.
According to Syrian military sources, air defense systems near Latakia, located southwest of Aleppo, were activated in an attempt to intercept the missiles headed towards Aleppo. Shortly after the strike in Aleppo, Israeli airstrikes targeted sites near Damascus International Airport and other targets south of Damascus, with Syrian air defenses downing “a number of missiles.”
Sabereen News, a channel close to Iran-backed forces in Syria reported that Israel targeted Aleppo airport to prevent a US sanctioned Iranian plane – belonging to the Yas Air cargo airline -- from landing as it appeared to be descending, adding that the plane changed course to Damascus so the Israeli aircraft returned and bombed Damascus airport.
Pouya Air – also known as Yas Air – is an Iranian cargo airline that has been owned by Pars Aviation Services Company (PASC), which the UN Security Council has identified as an entity affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC). According to the US Department of the Treasury, it has transported illicit cargo to Iranian proxies in the region on behalf of the IRGC Quds Force (IRGC-QF).
The Wednesday attack was the first alleged Israeli airstrike to target the Aleppo airport since 2019 and the second time Israel targeted a Syrian airport this year. On June 10, Israel bombed the Damascus International Airport, causing the airport to go completely out of service for a period of two weeks.
The airstrikes come less than a week after similar airstrikes targeted the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) in Masyaf, located southwest of Aleppo, reportedly destroying more than 1,000 Iranian-made missiles. The Observatory for Human Rights said the attack targeted a missile warehouse in the SSRC complex that stored thousands of medium-range, surface-to-surface missiles assembled under the supervision of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s “expert officers.”
The observatory added that 14 Syrian civilians sustained injuries with varying levels of severity during the Masyaf airstrike, in addition to casualties reported among Iranian-backed militias guarding the research center– which was heavily damaged during the attack.
In addition to the strikes attributed to Israel, the United States also engaged in a string of tit-for-tat attacks last week against Iranian militias in northern Syria who had targeted US forces with rockets and drones.
Iran-backed militias established a foothold in Syria while fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad during Syria's civil war.
The airstrikes came just hours after Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid spoke with US President Joe Biden about the continuing efforts by the US, EU and Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. During the conversation, Lapid also welcomed recent US strikes on Iran-backed militias in eastern Syria.