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Israeli Airstrike Damages Aleppo Airport, Syrian Officials Blame Iran

Israeli Airstrike Damages Aleppo Airport, Syrian Officials Blame Iran
Aleppo international airport, Syria. Reuters – On Wednesday, March 22, 2023, an Israeli airstrike hit near Syria's Aleppo airport, causing "material damage" and halting operations there, according to Syrian officials. Meanwhile, a regional intelligence source claims the strike hit an Iranian weapons depot. This attack marks the third time in six months that Israel has targeted the Aleppo airport, which is located in northern Syria, close to the border with Turkey.

Background: Iran's Growing Influence in Syria

Since the civil war in Syria began in 2011, Iran has been supporting President Bashar al Assad and his regime. Over the years, Israel has launched multiple attacks on what it describes as Iran-linked targets in Syria, where Tehran's influence has grown significantly.

Israel's Airstrike on Aleppo Airport

According to the Syrian defense ministry, Israel launched "a number of missiles from the Mediterranean Sea, west of the coastal city of Latakia, at 3.55 am" on March 22. The attack caused damage to the airport, and teams are currently working on repairs. Bassem Mansour, head of Syria's civil aviation service, confirmed the airport is out of action. An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment on the matter.

Regional Intelligence Sources on the Strike

Two regional intelligence sources claim that the Israeli strike hit an underground ammunition depot linked to the Nairab military airport area. They also claim that missile systems, delivered by several Iranian military planes, were stored at the depot. Pro-Iranian militias have expanded their influence in Syria's northern province of Aleppo over the past year, and they maintain several key bases in the area.

Nairab Military Airport and Iran's Presence in Syria

The Nairab military airport is used for Iranian weapons shipments and regular movement of troops, according to intelligence sources. Iran has increased its use of airports to ship more weapons over the past month, taking advantage of heavy air traffic as cargo planes unload humanitarian aid following a particularly deadly earthquake.

Israel's Previous Attacks on Aleppo Airport

This is the third time in six months that Israel has targeted the Aleppo airport. On March 7, 2023, an Israeli airstrike on the airport blew up a shipment of Iranian arms cargo hours after it was sent by a plane that Damascus said was carrying aid, according to Western intelligence sources. Damascus has condemned these attacks, claiming they have derailed much-needed aid for the earthquake victims.

Israel's Motivation for Attacking Syrian Airports

Israel has stepped up attacks on Syrian airports and air bases specifically to disrupt its use of air supply lines to deliver weapons to its allies, including the Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah. Hezbollah is also deploying fighters to aid Assad. Fighters allied with Iran, including Hezbollah, now control large areas in eastern, southern, and northwestern Syria and in several suburbs around the capital.

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