Syria says repairing airport damaged in Israeli strikes

Repairs have begun at the airport in Syria's capital, which was closed for a second day Saturday after Israeli air strikes, Syria's transport ministry said. The ministry confirmed in a statement that runways were out of service with serious damage after the attack. Since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes against its neighbour, targeting government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and fighters from Lebanon's group Hezbollah. But rarely have such attacks caused major flight disruptions. "Civil aviation and national companies are working… to repair the sizeable damage at the airport," the ministry said. The official SANA news agency said a civilian was wounded in the Israeli bombardment. Also read: Different photos, same wounds: Images from Ukraine, Syria mirror war The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the missile strike carried out before dawn on Friday hit one of the runways as well as three arms depots near the airport belonging to Hezbollah, and other Iran-backed groups. The Observatory, which relies on a network of sources within Syria, said the strikes wounded an undetermined number of people. According to the Observatory, the damaged runway was the only one still operational after an Israeli strike last year put another one out of service. Satellite images posted on Twitter by the Israeli firm ISI showed three separate areas of what it said was "extensive damage to both military and civilian runways" caused by the strikes. Russia strongly condemned "the provocative Israeli attack against essential civilian infrastructure" on Friday night. A spokesperson for Russia's foreign ministry warned that continued Israeli bombardment of Syrian territory would be "an absolutely unacceptable violation of international norms." Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian spoke by phone and also condemned the attack, SANA reported. Also read: Syrian fathers keep night watch so children don't freeze to death Syria "will defend itself by all legitimate means" against Israeli attacks, Mekdad said. While Israel rarely comments on individual strikes, it has acknowledged carrying out hundreds, in what the Jewish state's military says is 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 fighters. The war has killed nearly half a million people and forced around half of the country's pre-war population from their homes. Russia's military intervention in 2015 helped turn the war in favour of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. Moscow maintains military bases in the country.

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