An Israeli airstrike that hit the Aleppo International Airport in Syria has halted aid flights into the city that are needed for earthquake relief, a Syrian official told AFP.
The strike hit the airport early in the morning on Tuesday, about one month after an earthquake devastated Aleppo, a city that has already been struggling to rebuild after years of war due to US sanctions that are specifically designed to prevent Syria’s reconstruction.
“It is no longer possible to receive aid flights until the damage has been repaired,” said Suleiman Khalil, a Syrian Transport Ministry official. He said more than 80 aid flights had landed at the Aleppo airport since the earthquake hit.
In a statement, the Syrian Transport Ministry said the aid flights would be rerouted to airports in Damascus and Latakia. The Syrian Foreign Ministry called the strike a “double crime” because it hit a civilian airport and a key channel for the arrival of earthquake aid.
Israel stepped up its airstrikes against Syrian airports last year, claiming they were targeting Iranian weapons shipments. Israel frames its strikes in Syria as operations against Iran, but they frequently kill Syrians and damage civilian infrastructure.
Israel hasn’t commented on the Aleppo airport strike and typically does not take credit for individual airstrikes on the country. The US has been quiet about the Aleppo strike and tacitly backs Israel’s operations in Syria by never condemning them.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the US also reviews and approves Israeli airstrikes if the warplanes launching them are passing near US bases in Syria. Damascus said the Alepppo strike was launched from the direction of the Mediterranean Sea, signaling it didn’t pass a US base.