Syria's foreign ministry: Israeli raids on airport amount to a 'war crime'

Man walks at Aleppo international airport
A man walks at Aleppo international airport after it was reopened for the first time in years, Syria February 19, 2020. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

Sept 7 (Reuters) - Syria's foreign ministry said on Wednesday it considered Israeli recent air strikes on civilian infrastructure to be a war crime.

A foreign ministry statement specifically referred to Israeli air raids on Tuesday on Aleppo International Airport which damaged the runway and put the site out of service for the second time in a week.

"The recurring Israeli attacks, especially the systematic and deliberate targeting of civilian objects in Syria - the latest of which was the targeting of Aleppo International Airport yesterday - amounts to a crime of aggression and a war crime according to international law," the statment said.

"Israel must be held to account for it," it added.

Israel has intensified strikes on Syrian airports to disrupt Tehran's increasing use of aerial supply lines to deliver arms to allies in Syria and Lebanon including Hezbollah, regional diplomatic and intelligence sources told Reuters.

Tehran has adopted air transport as a more reliable means of ferrying military equipment to its forces and allied fighters in Syria, following disruptions to ground transfers.

Last week's attack damaged Aleppo airport just before the arrival of a plane from Iran, a commander in an Iran-backed regional alliance told Reuters.

Ram Ben-Barak, chairman of the Israeli parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, said on Wednesday the strikes had been a signal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"The attack meant that certain planes would not be able to land, and that a message was relayed to Assad: If planes whose purpose is to encourage terrorism land, Syria’s transport capacity will be harmed," he told Ynet Radio.

Ben-Barak, like other Israeli officials, declined to say whether Israel had actually carried out the strikes.

Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Angus MacSwan

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