DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria has suspended all flights to and from Damascus International Airport after an Israeli airstrike on Friday hit an area close to the facility, a pro-government newspaper reported.
Al-Watan said the strike left the runway damaged, without giving further details about the attack.
The airport is located south of the capital Damascus where Syrian opposition activists say Iran-backed militiamen are active and have arms depots. Israel has for years carried out strikes in the area, including one on May 21 that resulted in a fire near the airport, leading to the postponement of two flights.
State news agency SANA said the Ministry of Transportation confirmed that all flights have been suspended because “some technical equipment stopped functioning at the airport.” It did not mention a strike.
The private Sham Wings airlines said it is diverting all its flights from Damascus to the Aleppo International Airport in the country’s north. It added that all passengers will be shuttled by buses between the two cities for free.
The airport is located south of Damascus. Flightradar24 showed no flights in the vicinity of airport on Friday at noon.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said the Friday morning Israeli strike hit three arms depots for Iran-backed militiamen inside the airport, adding that the northern runway at the facility was damaged as was the observation tower.
The Observatory added that the northern runway was the only one functioning after Israeli strikes last year badly damaged the other runway, known as the southern runway.
The announcement came hours after Syria’s state media reported Israeli airstrikes on some military positions south of Damascus early Friday, wounding one person and causing material damage.
Israel has staged hundreds of strikes on targets in Syria over the years but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations. It says it targets bases of Iran-allied militias, such as Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group that has fighters deployed in Syria and fighting on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government forces, and arms shipments believed to be bound for the militias.