Striking Damascus, Aleppo airports is an Israeli effort to deactivate “Northern Front”
Enab Baladi – Yamen Moghrabi
Israeli warplanes targeted Damascus and Aleppo international airports twice in a row within one week, putting them temporarily out of service, according to what the Ministry of Defense of the Syrian regime government announced. It is not the first time that Israel has targeted the two airports in recent years, but it seems different this time.
The bombing coincided with the military operation launched by Israel against the Gaza Strip and the mutual bombing between it and the Lebanese Hezbollah group on the Israeli “northern front,” in addition to Iran’s declared position on the current battles in the occupied Palestinian territories, and Western fears of the conflict expanding to include the Syrian and Lebanese fronts as two advanced battle fronts for Iran’s auxiliary forces.
It seems that Israel, through the successive bombing of Damascus and Aleppo airports, is seeking to achieve two goals. The first relates to preventing Iran from supplying Hezbollah with any weapons and thus attempting to disrupt the northern front, with the party officially announcing its entry into the war, even though it is still clashing with the Israeli occupation army, according to the rules of engagement.
The second purpose, according to analysts interviewed by Enab Baladi, is related to delivering a clear message to Iran and its allies about “Israel’s ability to reach anywhere it wants.”
Messages behind targeting the two airports
From the beginning of 2023 until October, Israel targeted Damascus and Aleppo airports ten times.
The strikes over the past few days led to material losses, and the two airports were out of service, in addition to the killing of three soldiers and the injury of five and two civilians.
Israel has already claimed responsibility for the air strikes it directed against Syrian or Iranian military sites inside Syria, and the main reason for these strikes was to “stop the arrival of weapons to Hezbollah and Iranian militias,” according to official statements.
On October 7, Israel announced Operation Iron Swords and began violently bombing the Gaza Strip in occupied Palestine, causing thousands of deaths and injuries, in response to Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, which was launched by the Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas” on the same day.
Iran quickly blessed the Hamas operation, and then Hezbollah entered the line of clashes, with the possibility of its participation expanding to include bombing areas deep inside Israel, which meant it needed more weapons and ammunition.
According to the military analyst, Colonel Ahmed Hamada, the bombing of Israel at this particular time, coinciding with its military operations against Gaza, comes because it wants to deliver a message to Iran that it monitors the skies and can completely disrupt aviation and its ability to reach any place.
For his part, the military analyst, Captain Mahmoud Hourani, believed that the two airports represent the main air artery for Iranian military movements and the strengthening of its influence in Syria and that Iran is not allowed to use or equip other airports due to Russia’s presence and tight control over the military situation.
Disabling the Israeli “Northern Front”
Over the years, Israel has periodically targeted Iranian weapons shipments to Syria, and today, with fears of the expansion of Hezbollah’s targeting of targets deep inside Israel, the Israeli strike on the two airports appears to be aimed at disrupting the arrival of any military supplies to the Hezbollah party through Syrian airports.
Iran transferred weapons and ammunition to Syrian territory. It also used humanitarian aid after the Feb.6 earthquake to support its air defense systems. It also transferred advanced communications equipment and radar batteries, according to a Reuters investigation last April, specifically through Aleppo Airport.
Until the moment of writing this report, Hezbollah’s role in the current military operations against Israel was limited to bombing military targets within the approved rules of engagement, and it lost 40 fighters, with wounded Israeli soldiers, and the destruction of watchtowers, military vehicles, and advanced surveillance cameras.
The Israeli goal of disrupting Israel’s northern front by targeting the two airports before the start of the expected ground invasion of the Gaza Strip is seen by the military analyst Hamada as an attempt to prevent any modern equipment or weapons from reaching Hezbollah and other parties in a hurry, for fear of expanding the scope of the battles.
The two airports represent a fast case for air transport of modern equipment and sensitive matters, which are transported by air, according to Colonel Hamada.
For his part, Captain Hourani believes that Iran has been providing military support to the Syrian regime for ten years, and this means that it has already established weapons and ammunition depots.
Therefore, the temporary removal of the two airports from service will not affect combat operations if they expand on the northern front of Israel unless the duration of the battle is prolonged, and what may be accompanied by repeated removal of the airports from service, according to Hourani.
Both Hezbollah and Iran need airports, especially since countries usually resort to placing all important facilities and infrastructure in the service of combat operations and securing them and there is also the possibility of using civilian airports as military airports when necessary, or as warehouses for logistical supplies, Hourni said.
Regime’s options if airports are out of service
In addition to air routes, land routes across the border with Iraq played an important role in transporting weapons and fighters from Iran to Syria, and therefore, these routes appear to be the most suitable alternative for transporting military equipment.
In this regard, Colonel Hamada pointed out the existence of land smuggling routes that Iran used, as well as by sea, to secure what its forces needed to build strong military bases in Syria, similar to Lebanon.
The same thing was pointed out by Hourani, who told Enab Baladi that Iran’s alternatives for transferring ammunition and supplies to Hezbollah, in the event of an expansion of the northern front clashes, depend on land routes for arms smuggling, as it has exploited crises to increase the volume of smuggling or seek to establish more warehouses for its facilities, and invest in the infrastructure of the Syrian regime’s military units, to ensure the continuation of logistical work.
During the years of Iranian presence in Syria, Tehran worked to establish an air defense network extending from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon to encircle Israel and other Arab countries.
The Washington Post reported last May that Iran had transported ammunition and drones, and they were delivered via car convoys from Iraq in coordination with armed groups allied with Iran, in addition to the Quds Corps.
In the same month, Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani announced his country’s readiness to build military factories in Syria.
Ashtiani said, in statements reported by the Iranian Mehr Agency, that Tehran is ready to cooperate with the Syrian regime to launch production lines for strategic defense equipment, and he considered that Iranian weapons “were able to play an effective role in the field.”
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