Syria halts Damascus airport flights after Israeli strikes

Syria halts Damascus airport flights after Israeli strikes
Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes targeting government troops since the 2011 civil war broke out in Syria. (AFP)
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Updated 11 June 2022

Syria halts Damascus airport flights after Israeli strikes

Syria halts Damascus airport flights after Israeli strikes
  • Syria suspended flights to and from Damascus International Airport ‘until further notice’ after Israeli air strikes damaged the airstrip and a terminal
  • Syrian air defenses intercepted most of the missiles

DAMASCUS: All flights to and from Syria’s capital were halted Friday, the government said, after Israeli air strikes wounded at least one civilian and reportedly caused damage to an airport runway.
Since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes against its neighbor, targeting government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah, but rarely have such attacks caused major flight disruptions.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said the Friday morning Israeli strike hit three arms depots for Iran-backed militiamen inside the airport, adding that the northern runway at the facility was damaged as was the observation tower.
Syria’s transport ministry later announced the “suspension of incoming and outgoing flights through Damascus International Airport” as a result of technical disruptions.
“The resumption of flights shall be declared once the installations and equipment are fixed to ensure the safety and security of the operational traffic,” it said, quoted by the official news agency SANA.
The private Sham Wings airlines said it is diverting all its flights from Damascus to the Aleppo International Airport in the country’s north. It added that all passengers will be shuttled by buses between the two cities for free.
An airport employee told AFP that the Israeli strikes had “affected” the facility.
“We had to postpone all flights for at least 48 hours and some flights have been rerouted through Aleppo airport,” the employee said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on the issue.
An official at an Arab airline said separately that an airport landing strip had been hit during the Israeli assault — a development the pro-government newspaper Al-Watan also reported.
The official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said there had been no departures or arrivals from the airport since the strikes.
The Syrian Observatory said that the northern runway was the only one functioning after Israeli strikes last year badly damaged the other runway, known as the southern runway.
The 2021 strikes had targeted weapons shipments and arms depots operated by Iran-backed groups, said the Observatory, a Britain-based monitor that relies on a wide network of sources inside Syria.
The airport is located in a region south of Damascus where Iran-backed groups, including Hezbollah, regularly operate.
The vicinity of the facility is favorite target for Israel which has launched 15 aerial attacks on Syria this year alone and regularly accuses Iran of using Damascus airport to send weapons shipments to its allies.
The Observatory said the runway hit in the attack had already been in poor condition before the raids.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian condemned the attack as a “clear violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity... (and) contrary to international law and human principles,” in a phone call with his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad, Iran’s state media reported.
Syrian state media had reported the Israeli strikes on southern Damascus, saying a volley of missiles were fired from the occupied Golan Heights at around 4:20 am (0120 GMT).
Syrian air defenses intercepted most of the missiles, but those that reached their target left at least one civilian wounded and caused material damage, SANA reported.
While Israel rarely comments on individual strikes, it has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of them.
The Israeli military says the strikes are necessary to prevent its arch foe Iran from gaining a foothold on its doorstep.
The conflict in Syria started with the brutal repression of peaceful protests and escalated to pull in foreign powers and global jihadists.
The war has killed nearly half a million people and forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.
(With AFP, AP and Reuters)


Market blast in north Syria kills at least 9, injures dozens

Market blast in north Syria kills at least 9, injures dozens
Updated 11 sec ago

Market blast in north Syria kills at least 9, injures dozens

Market blast in north Syria kills at least 9, injures dozens
BEIRUT: A rocket attack on a crowded market in a town held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters in northern Syria Friday killed at least nine people and wounded dozens, an opposition war monitor and a paramedic group reported.
The attack on the town of Al-Bab came days after a Turkish airstrike killed at least 11 Syrian troops and US-backed Kurdish fighters. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, blamed Syrian government forces for the shelling, saying it was in retaliation for the Turkish airstrike.
The Observatory said the attack killed at least 10 and wounded more than 30.
The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets, had a lower death toll, saying nine people, including children, were killed and 28 were wounded. The paramedic group said its members evacuated some of the wounded and the dead bodies.
Discrepancies in casualty figures immediately after attacks are not uncommon in Syria.
Turkey has launched three major cross-border operations into Syria since 2016 and controls some territories in the north.
Although the fighting has waned over the past few years, shelling and airstrikes are not uncommon in northern Syria that is home to the last major rebel stronghold in the country.
Syria’s conflict that began in March 2011, has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.
President Bashar Assad’s forces now control most parts of Syria with the help of their allies, Russia and Iran.

Palestinian killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry

Palestinian killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry
Updated 27 min 23 sec ago

Palestinian killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry

Palestinian killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry
  • Israeli military say soldiers came under fire during a raid in the town
  • Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories Presse: A Palestinian man was killed Friday by Israeli forces during a raid in the north of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.
Salah Sawafta, 58, “died of critical wounds, sustained by live bullets from the occupation (Israeli military) in the head, in Tubas this morning,” a ministry statement said.
The Israeli military said soldiers came under fire during a raid in the town.
During an operation in “Tubas, several suspects hurled Molotov cocktails and opened fire at (Israeli) troops, who responded with fire,” the army said in a statement, adding “hits were identified.”
The mayor of Tubas, Hossam Daraghmeh, said Sawafta had been leaving dawn prayers when he was shot.
“He left the mosque and was heading to his house wearing a prayer robe. There was a vengeful soldier stationed in a building near the municipality who shot him in the head,” he said.
Daraghmeh said Sawafta had been unarmed when he was hit.
“This man did not have a stone or anything in his hand,” he said.
The Israeli military said five people were detained in overnight raids across the West Bank.
On Thursday, a 20-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli troops during clashes in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967, when it seized the territory from Jordan.


Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: civil defense

Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: civil defense
Updated 29 min 40 sec ago

Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: civil defense

Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: civil defense
  • Since the beginning of August, almost 150 blazes have destroyed hundreds of hectares (acres) of forest in Africa’s largest country

Algiers: Wildfires, which killed at least 38 people and left a trail of destruction in eastern Algeria this week, are now under control, a civil defense official told AFP on Friday.
“All of the fires have been completely brought under control,” said fire brigade Col. Farouk Achour, of the civil defense department.
Since the beginning of August, almost 150 blazes have destroyed hundreds of hectares (acres) of forest in Africa’s largest country.
Deadly fires have become an annual scourge in Algeria, where climate change has turned large areas of forest into a tinderbox in the blistering summer months.
The justice ministry launched an inquiry after Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud suggested some of the fires were started deliberately, and authorities on Thursday announced four arrests of suspected arsonists.
Authorities have been accused of being ill-prepared, with few firefighting aircraft available despite record casualties in last year’s blazes and a cash windfall from gas exports with global energy prices soaring.


UAE’s foreign aid over past year totalled $3.5 billion

UAE’s foreign aid over past year totalled $3.5 billion
Updated 19 August 2022

UAE’s foreign aid over past year totalled $3.5 billion

UAE’s foreign aid over past year totalled $3.5 billion

DUBAI: The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC), said on Thursday that the total value of foreign aid provided by the UAE from the start of 2021 to mid-August 2022 amounted to some $3.5 billion.
While Yemen accounted for most of the Emirati foreign aid with over $315 million, the list also included several Arab, Asian and Western countries, state news agency WAM reported.
A range of sectors and programmes received aid from the UAE, including public and health sectors, social services, and education.
Programmes aimed at supporting peace and security received over $74 million, and the water and public health services sectors received $72 million, government and civil society initiatives received nearly $60 million, and services that support the energy sector received some $57 million, and initiatives aimed at supporting the agriculture sector received over $50 million.


Iraq security forces thwart Daesh attack in Kirkuk

Iraq security forces thwart Daesh attack in Kirkuk
Updated 19 August 2022

Iraq security forces thwart Daesh attack in Kirkuk

Iraq security forces thwart Daesh attack in Kirkuk

DUBAI: Security forces have thwarted a Daesh attack in the northern Iraqi region of Kirkuk.

“A group of ISIS remnants attacked a security point in the village of Khabaza, affiliated to Hawija district, southwest of Kirkuk, before they were confronted by a force from the 61st Brigade of the Popular Mobilization,” the Popular Mobilization Forces said in a statement carried by state media Iraqi News Agency.

“One of the brigade’s fighters was shot during the attack, and the point was reinforced strongly from the brigade’s headquarters and from its third regiment,” the statement added.

Iraqi security forces have undertaken extensive operations against Daesh to prevent their resurgence since declaring their defeat in 2017.

Iraqi anti-terror resistance groups have repeatedly warned that remnants of Daesh active in Syria’s east may find unhindered access to the Iraqi border and infiltrate the country to conduct militant activities.