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Syria halts flights from and to Damascus, hours after Israeli attack

file photo: a syrianair airbus a340 300 is pictured at damascus international airport
FILE PHOTO: A SyrianAir Airbus A340-300 is pictured at Damascus International Airport, on its re-opening day for regular international commercial traffic after months of closure following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in this handout released by SANA on October 1, 2020, Syria. SANA/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Syria halted flights to and from Damascus International Airport on Friday, the transport ministry said, a few hours after Israeli air strikes hit south of the capital.

A Syrian military official quoted by the state news agency SANA said Syrian air defences intercepted the Israeli missiles, downing most of them, but that the early morning attack wounded one civilian and caused some material damage.

Cham Wings Airline, a private Syrian carrier, said it was rerouting all its flights to Aleppo International Airport.

The transport ministry’s statement did not refer to the Israeli attack but cited technical reasons for the airport’s shutdown.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday the Israeli bombing had damaged the runway after targeting “warehouses of Iranian militias” near the airport.

An Israeli military spokesperson declined to comment.

For several years, Israel has been attacking what it has described as Iranian-linked targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, have deployed to help President Bashar al-Assad.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian condemned the attack as a “clear violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity… (and) contrary to international law and human principles”, in a phone call with his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad, Iran’s state media reported.

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