Satellite images: Israeli strike appears to damage Syrian airport

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A suspected Israeli airstrike targeting Syria’s Aleppo International Airport again tore several cracks on its runway, satellite images analyzed by the Associated Press on Thursday. A separate United Nations official has criticized the attack for interfering with earthquake relief for the war-torn country.

The attack on Aleppo airport comes as Israel has previously struck the airfield as part of an Israeli campaign to prevent the transfer of weapons from Iran to the country. These attacks have continued despite ongoing political turmoil in Israel and Iran’s nuclear program inching closer to enriching uranium to weapons-grade levels as talks over it have collapsed each other

The satellite images, taken early Tuesday afternoon by Planet Labs PBC, show the vehicles gathered on the airport’s single asphalt runway around the damage. One location, just south of the passenger terminal, appeared to be a new, significant crack.

The strike also appeared to target three hidden areas that were hit earlier in attacks by Israel in September. The runway was also hit at the end of August at another location, although that trackwork did not appear to be damaged.

Aleppo airport, like many others in the Middle East countries, is a dual-use facility that includes civilian and military aspects. Iran has been instrumental in arming and supporting President Bashar Assad in his country’s long civil war.

Tuesday’s attack has shut down Aleppo airport, with Syria’s foreign minister saying it was a “double crime” as it targeted a civilian airport and a key channel for aid to areas which was hit by an earthquake last month.

Since February 6, the earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria has killed more than 50,000 people, including 6,000 in Syria, dozens of flights carrying aid from different countries have landed at Aleppo airport. Authorities say relief flights are now being diverted to airports in Damascus and Latakia.

On Wednesday, the United Nations official in charge of relief efforts in Syria called on nations to “take all possible precautions to save civilians and civilian objects in the hands of enemies.”

“The impact of this closure is hampering humanitarian access and could have a significant impact on the millions of people affected by the earthquake,” said El-Mostafa Benlamlih. “Moreover, it could adversely affect the wider vulnerable population in need of humanitarian assistance.”

The Israeli prime minister’s office declined to comment Thursday when reached by the AP.

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