SANA’A: The Syrian army said on Monday that Israel had carried out a missile strike on Damascus International Airport and put it out of service, the latest in a string of strikes targeting Iran-linked assets.
A volley of air-launched missiles had hit the airport at 2:00 am, the army said in a statement. They had come from the direction of Lake Tiberias in Israel.
Missiles had also hit targets in the south of Damascus, killing two members of the Syrian armed forces and causing some damage, the army said.
Earlier, two regional intelligence sources said the strikes had hit an outpost near the airport of Iran’s Quds Force and the militias it backs. Their presence has spread in Syria in recent years.
The Israel Defence Force (IDF) did not immediately comment on the attack.
Last year, Israel intensified strikes on Damascus International and other civilian airports to disrupt Tehran’s increasing use of aerial supply lines to deliver arms to allies in Syria and Lebanon, including Hezbollah.
Syria halted flights to and from the airport in June for nearly two weeks after Israeli strikes caused extensive damage to infrastructure, including a runway and a terminal.
Israel fired missiles at Damascus International again in September, when it also struck the country’s second-largest civilian airport, in the northern city of Aleppo, putting it out of operation for several days.
Western and regional intelligence sources say Tehran has adopted civilian air transportation as a more reliable means of ferrying military equipment to its forces and to allied fighters in Syria, following the Israeli disruption of ground supply.
Israel has repeatedly bombed Iran-backed militia targets in Syria in recent years, saying its goal is to erode Tehran’s military presence, which Western intelligence sources say has expanded in the war-torn country.
They say Iran has a strong presence in the Sayeda Zainab neighbourhood of southern Damascus, where militias that it backs have underground bases.
Iran’s proxy militias, led by Lebanon’s Hezbollah, now hold sway in vast areas in eastern, southern and northwestern Syria and in several suburbs around the capital.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government has never publicly acknowledged that Iranian forces operate on his behalf in Syria’s civil war, saying Tehran has only military advisers on the ground.
The chief of Israel’s armed forces, Lieutenant-General Aviv Kohavi, last month claimed credit for an air strike on a convoy that had entered Syria from Iraq, saying the target had been a truck carrying Iranian weaponry.