Satellite image shows damage to Aleppo airport after reported Israeli raid

A satellite image taken Thursday showed damage at the Aleppo International Airport in northern Syria, in an airstrike attributed to Israel the previous night.

The image, taken by Planet Labs PBC and provided by Aurora Intel, appeared to show a scorched area near the end of the runway.

Near the damaged area several vehicles can be seen in the image, likely conducting repairs to the runway, said Aurora Intel, a network that provides news and updates based on open-source intelligence. The strike tore a hole through the runway, as well as ignited a grassfire at the airfield.

A radio navigation system, south of the runway, used to aid aircraft in staying on course was also seen damaged in the image.

On Wednesday night, Syria said Israel carried out two consecutive airstrikes, the first on the Aleppo airport and the second near the capital Damascus. The second target was later said to be a similar navigation system used by the Damascus International Airport.

Syria, like many Middle East nations, has dual-use airports that include civilian and military sides.

According to an official notice sent by Syrian aviation authorities, the radio navigation system was out of service at the Damascus airport. Aurora Intel said additional satellite images appeared to confirm damage was caused to the site.

This satellite image taken September 1, 2022, shows damage caused in an airstrike attributed to Israel at the Aleppo International Airport in northern Syria. (Planet Labs PBC through Aurora Intel)

Still, planes continued to land at the airport throughout Thursday.

Another notice, known as a NOTAM, stated that the runway at the Aleppo airport was damaged, along with the navigational system seen damaged in the satellite image.

Aleppo is a major city in northern Syria, near its border with Turkey, and is an uncommon — though not unprecedented — target for reported Israeli airstrikes.

According to Aurora Intel, a sanctioned Iranian cargo plane had landed at the Aleppo airport several hours before the strike. It was not clear if the plane, or cargo it was carrying, had been hit in the attack.

This satellite photo released by Planet Labs PBC shows the damage after an Israeli strike targeted the Aleppo International Airport, September 1, 2022. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

Just before the strike, a transponder on an Antonov An-74 cargo plane flown by Iran’s Yas Air sanctioned years earlier by the US Treasury over flying weapons on behalf of the paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps briefly pinged near Aleppo, according to flight-tracking data . The altitude and location suggest the plane planned to land in Aleppo.

Cargo aircraft over Syria often don’t broadcast their location data. A phone number listed to Yas Air rank unanswered.

Iran and Syria’s missions to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

Earlier Thursday, Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad issued a harsh warning to Israel over the airstrikes. He said Israel was “playing with fire” and risking a wider military conflict, according to Arabic media reports.

A fire is reportedly seen at the Aleppo International Airport in northern Syria following an airstrike attributed to Israel, August 31, 2022. (Social media)

There were no reports of injuries in the alleged attacks.

As a rule, Israel’s military does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, but has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country. It says it also attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Lebanese Hezbollah.

Earlier this year, airstrikes attributed to Israel caused major damage to the Damascus International Airport, halting all air traffic for two weeks.

Generally, relatively large weapons are thought to be smuggled via Syria on Iranian cargo airlines, which frequently land at Damascus International and the Tiyas, or T-4, airbase, outside of the central Syrian city of Palmyra.

The weaponry is then believed to be stored in warehouses in the area before being trucked to Lebanon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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