S-300 failed: Syria says Israeli F-16 strike puts Damascus airport out of service again

This image circulating online purports to show smoke rising from a site in Damascus following an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria, November 26, 2023.

Israeli air strikes put Damascus airport out of service on Sunday, forcing incoming flights to be diverted elsewhere, the Syrian army and a pro-government newspaper said.

Israel has for years carried out strikes against what it has described as Iranian-linked targets in Syria, including against Aleppo and Damascus airports.

The Syrian army said in a statement its S-300 air defences failed to intercept Israeli missiles flying from the Golan Heights. It said the Israeli strikes, which also targeted outposts in the Damascus countryside, led only to material losses but did not elaborate on the extent of damage to the country’s biggest civilian airport.There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

An IAF F-16I fighter jet carrying a ‘Rocks’ air-to-surface ‘bunker buster’ missile takes off from an Israeli air base in an undated photograph. (Rafael Advanced Defense Systems)

Flights scheduled to arrive in Damascus were being diverted to Latakia and Aleppo, Al Watan newspaper said.

Alleged Israeli airstrikes on Sunday made Syria’s Damascus airport inoperable just hours after flights had resumed, following a similar attack last month.

Syrian media reported Israeli airstrikes against Damascus International Airport and other targets near the capital.

Syria’s state-run news agency, SANA, citing a military source, said Israeli fighter jets fired missiles from the Golan Heights and hit Damascus International Airport and a number of other sites in the area. The pro-government Sham FM radio said the runway at the airport was hit.

SANA claimed that Syrian S-300 air defenses failed to intercept “the Israeli missiles. The Syrian military reported that it failed to shoot down incoming missiles, which analysts largely dismiss as empty boasts.

The state-run agency said that “material damage” was caused to the airport, putting it out of service.

While Israel’s military does not, as a rule, comment on specific strikes in Syria, it has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed terror groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country, over the last decade.

The Israeli military says it attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Additionally, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

There have been numerous alleged Israel strikes on Syria since the war between Israel and Hamas, a Hezbollah ally, began on October 7. Reported Israeli strikes on Damascus airport and Aleppo airport in the north on October 12 and October 22 put both facilities out of service.

Two ticketing offices in the capital said that flights had resumed from Damascus on Sunday, and local media also reported the resumption. Authorities had yet to make an official announcement.

Flights were rerouted to Latakia on the west coast after the October 22 strikes.

Damascus airport has been allegedly struck by Israel several times over the past year, as Israel is believed to be stepping up efforts to prevent the shipment of advanced weapons from Iran to its various Middle East proxies.

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