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Syria's two main airports still shut month after Israeli strikes — monitor

By AFP - Nov 22,2023 - Last updated at Nov 22,2023

BEIRUT — Syria's two main airports are still shut a month after simultaneous Israeli strikes put them out of service, the longest such closure since the Syrian conflict began, a war monitor said on Wednesday.

Flights to and from Damascus and Aleppo airports have been suspended since the October 22 strikes damaged the runways.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said both airports "are closed" despite the completion of repair works.

Syrian authorities did not respond to an AFP request for comment on the extended closures.

Since Syria's conflict began in 2011 Israel has repeatedly targeted Damascus airport, but this is the first time the country's main such facility has been shut for a month, Abdel Rahman added.

Israel, which has launched hundreds of air strikes on its northern neighbour since 2011, primarily targeting Hizbollah fighters and other Iran-backed forces as well as Syrian army positions, has intensified attacks since the Israeli war on Gaza began on October 7.

With both Damascus and Syria’s second airport Aleppo out of service, the transport ministry said flights have been re-routed to Latakia on the west coast.

Latakia airport, more than 300 kilometres from Damascus, is smaller and flights there are limited, including to Russia, Iran and Iraq.

A Russian military base at the airport protects it from Israeli strikes, the observatory said.

On Wednesday morning, the observatory, which has a vast network of sources inside Syria, said Israeli strikes targeted a centre belonging to Hizbollah in the Damascus countryside.

Syrian state media did not report the attack.

Israel rarely comments on individual strikes on Syria, but it has repeatedly said it will not allow arch-foe Iran to expand its presence there.

 

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