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Syria redirects quake aid after airstrike on Aleppo airport

March 7, 2023

Syria says it must reroute flights taking aid to earthquake victims in the country after an overnight air raid by Israel on Aleppo's main airport.

Workers unload humanitarian aid sent from Armenia to Syria following the devastating earthquake
The airport has been a key hub for delivering quake aid to northern Syria in the past monthImage: SANA/AP/picture alliance

Syria's Defense Ministry said officials had halted all flights to and from Aleppo International Airport on Tuesday. It said the move came after Israeli warplanes struck the airport in pre-dawn raids.

The airport has been a vital conduit carrying aid to northern Syria after a February 6 earthquake hit the region and neighboring southeastern Turkey.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has been documenting violence in Syria since 2011, also reported that the attack took place, saying that the facility sustained heavy damage.

What Syria has said so far

A Syrian Transport Ministry official told the AFP news agency the aid flights would be diverted to Damascus and Latakia airports until the damage could be repaired.

"It is no longer possible to receive aid flights until the damage has been repaired," the spokesman said, adding that the runway was out of service because of the strike.

Dozens of flights have shuttled food and other aid into Aleppo and the surrounding region over the past month.

The strike is the second reported Israeli attack on government-held areas since the earthquake hit the region.The earthquake killed more than 50,000 people, including 6,000 people in Syria.

An air raid in mid-February in a central area of Damascus was believed to have killed at least 15 people.

How has Israel responded?

The Israeli military has not initially commented on whether it carried out the strike in Aleppo.

Syria quake survivors face desperate situation

Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria since the start of the country's civil war in 2011. In particular, it has targeted air and sea ports in an apparent effort to stop arms shipments from Iran to Tehran-backed militant groups, including Lebanon's Hezbollah.

While the Israeli military rarely comments on any individual strike against Syria, it has repeatedly vowed to maintain its air campaign.

rc/sms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)