Israel Attack Damaged Syrian Airport Runway

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- An Israeli attack targeting a Syrian airport tore a hole in the runway and also damaged a structure close to the military side of the airfield, satellite photos analyzed Friday by The Associated Press showed.

The attack Wednesday night on Aleppo International Airport comes as an Israeli strike only months earlier took out the runway at the country's main airport in the capital, Damascus, over Iranian weapons transfers to the country.

The satellite photos taken Thursday by Planet Labs PBC showed vehicles gathered around the site of one of the strikes at the airport, near the western edge of its sole runway. The strike tore a hole through the runway, as well as ignited a fire at the airfield.

Just south of the runway damage near the military side of the airport, debris lay scattered after another strike hit a structure that resembled either radio or navigational equipment in earlier satellite images. Nearby tarmac appeared burned.

Syria, like many Middle East nations, have dual-use airports that include civilian and military sides. Flights at the airport have been disrupted by the attack. Syria's Foreign Ministry late Thursday described the damage from the attack as severe, saying it hit the runway and "completely destroyed the navigational station with its equipment."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based opposition war monitor, alleged immediately after the strike that Israel targeted an Iranian missile shipment to the Aleppo airport. Iran, as well as Lebanon's allied Hezbollah militant group, has been crucial to embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad remaining in power since a war began in his country amid the 2011 Arab Spring.

Just before the strike, a transponder on an Antonov An-74 cargo plane flown by Iran's Yas Air sanctioned years earlier by the U.S. Treasury over flying weapons on behalf of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard briefly pinged near Aleppo, according to flight-tracking data. The altitude and location suggested the plane planned to land in Aleppo.

Cargo aircraft over Syria often don't broadcast their location data, likely due in part to the international sanctions on Assad's government. A phone number listed to Yas Air rang unanswered Friday.

Iran and Syria's missions to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday from the AP. Israel, which has conducted numerous attacks on Syria in its shadow war with Iran in the wider Mideast, has not directly acknowledged Wednesday's strike.

Syria's Foreign Ministry called on the U.N. Security Council to condemn the attacks, saying Damascus holds Israel responsible "for deliberately targeting the international airports of Damascus and Aleppo and for endangering civilian facilities and the lives of civilians."

Syrian passenger flights between Aleppo and Damascus, the country's two largest cities, only resumed in February 2020 after years of war.

The strike comes as tensions across the wider Mideast remain high as negotiations over Iran's tattered nuclear deal with world powers hang in the balance.