| 29 February 2024, Thursday |

Two dead in Israeli strikes on Syria

Two Syrians were killed Wednesday in Israeli strikes near Damascus that targeted Lebanon’s Hezbollah, a war monitor said, after reporting another Israeli attack earlier in the day.

Syria’s two main airports are also still shut a month after simultaneous Israeli strikes put them out of service — the longest such closure since the Syrian conflict began, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

On Wednesday morning, the Observatory, which has a network of sources inside Syria, said Israeli strikes targeted a center belonging to Hezbollah, a Syrian government ally, in the Damascus countryside, AFP reported.

The monitor then reported “new Israeli air strikes that targeted Hezbollah” on the outskirts of Damascus, adding later that two Syrian nationals who “work with Hezbollah” were killed.

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

State news agency SANA, citing a statement from a military source, said at around 3:10 pm (1210 GMT), “the Zionist enemy carried out an air attack with two missiles from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan, targeting some points in the vicinity of the city of Damascus”.

“Air defenses responded to the attack and downed one of the missiles,” the statement said, reporting “material damage”.

Syria’s foreign ministry warned that “such criminal acts… threaten the security and the stability of the region”, SANA reported.

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

Israel rarely comments on individual strikes targeting Syria, but it has repeatedly said it will not allow arch-foe Iran, which backs President Bashar al-Assad’s government, to expand its presence there.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory, said both airports “are closed” despite the completion of repairs.

Since Syria’s conflict began in 2011 after the government repressed peaceful anti-government protests, Israel has repeatedly targeted Damascus airport, but this is the first time it has been shut for a month, Abdel Rahman added.

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 coast in the west.

Latakia airport, more than 300 kilometres (185 miles) 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 attack, the Observatory said.


  • Asharq Al-Awsat