In Rare Comment, Israeli Official Says Syria Strikes Sent 'Message' to President Assad

Syria's Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, calls for Israel to be held accountable, arguing the recent airstrikes on civilian infrastructure amount to 'war crimes'

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Syrian President Bashar Assad in the town of Douma, near the Syrian capital Damascus, last May.
Syrian President Bashar Assad in the town of Douma, near the Syrian capital Damascus, last May.Credit: Hassan Ammar /AP

A Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday that Israel's alleged airstrikes in Syria are a signal to President Bashar Assad, but declined to say whether Israel had actually carried out the attacks.

Ram Ben Barak, chairman of the Israeli parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, spoke with Ynet Radio on Wednesday about the recent airstrikes on Syria's Aleppo International Airport.

"The attack meant that certain planes would not be able to land, and that a message was relayed to Assad: If planes whose purpose is to encourage terrorism land, Syria’s transport capacity will be harmed," he said.

Syria said on Wednesday that it considered the recent airstrikes on civilian infrastructure, which it attributes to Israel, to be a war crime.

A Syrian Foreign Ministry statement specifically referred to Israeli air raids on Tuesday on Aleppo International Airport which damaged the runway and put the site out of service for the second time in a week.

"The recurring Israeli attacks, especially the systematic and deliberate targeting of civilian objects in Syria — the latest of which was the targeting of Aleppo International Airport yesterday — amounts to a crime of aggression and a war crime according to international law," the statement said.

"Israel must be held to account for it," it added.

Israel has intensified strikes on Syrian airports to disrupt Tehran's increasing use of aerial supply lines to deliver arms to allies in Syria and Lebanon including Hezbollah, regional diplomatic and intelligence sources told Reuters.

Tehran has adopted air transport as a more reliable means of ferrying military equipment to its forces and allied fighters in Syria, following disruptions to ground transfers.

Last week's attack damaged the Aleppo airport just before the arrival of a plane from Iran, a commander in an Iran-backed regional alliance told Reuters.

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