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

A SyrianAir Airbus A340-300 is pictured at Damascus International Airport
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

DAMASCUS, June 10 (Reuters) - Syria halted flights to and from Damascus International Airport “until further notice” on Friday after Israeli air strikes damaged the airstrip and a terminal, the transport ministry said.

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 said the airport had stopped all flights, and a later statement said Israeli air strikes damaged the runway and one of the terminals.

“As a result of this damage, all arriving and departing flights at the airport have been suspended until further notice,” the ministry’s second statement said.

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.

Reporting by Maya Gebeily in Beirut, Yomna Ehab in Cairo, Kinda Makieh, and Dubai newsroom; Writing by Lina Najem, Editing by Catherine Evans, Angus MacSwan and Alex Richardson

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