An alleged airstrike by Israel has targeted areas of the Damascus, Syria airport and resulted in one Syrian soldier having been killed according to SANA the Syrian state-run media channel. 

“At around 12:50 a.m, the Israeli enemy carried out an air raid with several missiles in the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan and targeting several positions in the south,” a military source was quoted by SANA.

Syrian air defenses shot down most of the missiles, SANA said. The attack led to “the martyrdom of a soldier and some material losses”, it added. Russian sources said that Syrian-operated, Russian-supplied Pantsir-S1 air defense systems shot down seven of the eight missiles launched.

But as usual, that bluster from Syrian and Russian sources doesn’t tell the real story. It is believed that Israeli four Israeli F-16s flying over the Golan Heights launched cruise missiles at targets in and around the Damascus airport. 

Satellite images from Capella Space and shared on social media (Twitter) by Aurora Intel, however, clearly show that the runway at the airport was cratered in three spots spaced perfectly about 2,000 feet apart (600 meters).  That would debunk the claims that seven of the eight missiles were shot down. 

SET imagery of the cratered runway at Syria’s main airport. photo: Aurora Intel via Capella Space on their Twitter accounts

Sputnik International, a Russian-based media organization quoted Russian Rear Adm. Vadim Kulit, deputy head of the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of Warring Parties in Syria, who said to the press at a briefing, “on December 16, from 1:51 to 1:59, four Israeli Air Force F-16 tactical fighters from the airspace over the Golan Heights struck with eight cruise missiles at targets near the Damascus International Airport.” 

He added that the Syrian air defense forces, firing the Pantsir-S systems shot down seven of the eight missiles fired by Israeli F-16s.

“As a result of the airstrike, a warehouse was damaged, one person was killed,” Kulit said. But he made no mention of the perfectly spaced craters at the runway. 

The Israelis have struck the airport and areas surrounding it for years since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011. It has long been known that the Iranians have used the southern area of the airport to transport weapons (frequently rockets and missiles), arms, and ammunition to their proxy militias in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. Per their usual modus operandi, the Israelis for the most part have refused to either acknowledge or deny conducting the airstrikes. 

Israel has been adamant about how the deployments of Iranian-proxy forces in Syria, including Hezbollah and other Shia militias will not be tolerated near Israel’s borders and is a definite red line not to be crossed. As a result, the Israeli Air Force has repeatedly conducted airstrikes including the targeting of numerous weapons depots. 

While the vast majority of Israeli airstrikes have taken place in southwestern Syria, around the Damascus airport where Iranian forces and proxy militias are stationed, they’ve also targeted the Iranian presence in Aleppo, Homs, Palmyra (T4 airbase), and eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border at Abul Kamal. 

On December 7, Israeli forces conducted a missile strike from fighter aircraft targeting shipping containers at the port of Latakia. SANA reported that while several containers were hit in the airstrike, their air-defense systems “repelled the Israeli aggression.” Syrian state television reported that five explosions were heard at the container area of the port before fire trucks responded to the scene. 

Featured photo of Israeli F-16: AP photo

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