Two days ago rockets were fired from Syria into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, which regional media sources said was in “solidarity” with the Palestinian cause as war rages in Gaza. Likely it was a Syrian Army strike, but there remains the possibility of associated militias having conducted it, such as ‘Iran-linked’ groups.
IDF Spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said at the time, “Attacks, rockets were fired from Syria into Israel. We do not yet know if these rockets were fired by the Syrian National Army (SNA), by any of the many Iranian militias that exist and are welcomed by the Syrian regime or Hezbollah or any other faction. What we do know is that we retaliated towards the sources of fire and currently the situation there is quiet and let’s hope that it remains that way.”
But it seems Israel is indeed holding the Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad responsible, as on Thursday the IDF has struck back against Syrian targets. Syrian state television is now confirming that Israel has launched attacks on the country’s two main international airports, in the capital of Damascus and Aleppo in the north. It happened while an Iranian plane was inbound.
According to Reuters, “Local media channel Sham FM said Syrian air defenses were launched in response to both attacks. It said here had been damage but no casualties at the Aleppo airport, but did not give any information on the impact of the strike on Damascus Airport.”
State media has confirmed that the Israeli strikes hit runways and have left both airports out of commission. It’s not the first time Israel has attacked these airports, but them being both hit in a simultaneous operation appears a first.
There are reports that an Iranian plane has turned around due the the strikes on both airports, with Israeli newspaper Haartz writing,
“An Iranian plane turned around towards Tehran following airstrikes at the international airports in Damascus and Aleppo.”
This may have possibly been the plane of the Iranian foreign minister, as multiple aviation monitoring sources are now reporting, and thus Israel’s fresh attacks have sent a message to Tehran along with being retaliation for the earlier Syrian attack on the Golan Heights.
Mahan Air 146 (usual a Tehran – Aleppo flight), returns to Tehran following reported attack on Aleppo and Damascus
— avi scharf (@avischarf) October 12, 2023
“The attacks came a day before Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, was due to visit Syria,” Reuters notes. “On Thursday, technical teams were out to determine the extent of damage at both sites, Syria’s transport ministry said.”
Both Washington and Israel have issued strong warnings to Iran, Syria, and Lebanese Hezbollah to not enter the Hamas-Israel conflict.
Iran’s Foreign Minister had announced trips to Iraq and Syria from Tehran. Israel bombed the Damascus and Aleppo airports (Syrian) and the Iranian plane turned around. pic.twitter.com/TLxob14w8Y
— Gabriel Noronha (@GLNoronha) October 12, 2023
There have been emerging reports in Western media saying that the Iranians may have actually been taken by surprise with Saturday’s major Hamas incursion into southern Israel. The intelligence consensus out of US officials speaking to the media has been that while Iran has financed Hamas for years, it likely didn’t have direct involvement in the operation.