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June 15, 2022 4:00 pm

Russia Excoriates Israeli Ambassador to Moscow Over Air Strike on Damascus Airport

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Passengers walk past a thermal scanner, at Damascus International Airport, in Syria, March 9, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Omar Sanadiki.

Attempting to reassert its weight on the international stage, the Russian government on Wednesday summoned Israel’s ambassador to express Moscow’s “serious concern” over last week’s air strikes that paralyzed Syria’s Damascus International Airport.

“Serious concern was again expressed over the June 10 Israeli air force attack on the civilian airport of Damascus, which damaged the runway, navigation equipment and buildings, and caused damage to international civilian air traffic,” Russia’s foreign ministry stated following a meeting between Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and Israeli Ambassador Alexander Ben Zvi in Moscow.

Bogdanov lamented that the closure of the airport halted the delivery of humanitarian supplies provided by the United Nations to millions of Syrians.

“The ambassador was told that the justification received from the Israeli side on the strike on Damascus International Airport seemed unconvincing and that Moscow was waiting for additional clarifications,” the statement read.

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Furthermore, Bogdanov warned Ben Zvi that Moscow would not allow Syria to become a battlefield for other foreign countries. Russia has been the main backer of President Bashar al Assad’s regime since the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011.

Israel allegedly struck Damascus International Airport on June 10 in order to target “warehouses of Iranian militias,” according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor. Images published on Wednesday by Israeli satellite firm ImageSat International showed reconstruction work was conducted at the site following extensive damage to both military and civilian runways from the air strikes which halted flights to and from the airport.

Israel has carried out strikes against hundreds of Iranian-linked targets in Syria in recent years as part of its so-called “campaign between wars.” The campaign aims to prevent Tehran from entrenching in the war-torn country and from funnelling arms, including precision weapons, to its proxies, mainly the Hezbollah terror group operating in Lebanon.

Since Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine at the end of February, Israel has found itself in a sensitive spot between the two adversaries. Israel has shown support for Ukraine by speaking out against Russian aggression but declined to provide military aid limiting its assistance to humanitarian aid to avoid jeopardizing its ability to conduct operations in Syria’s skies against Iranian targets, which depend on coordination with Moscow. Russia has additionally antagonized Israel by describing Ukraine’s democratically-elected government as a “neo-Nazi” regime and by invoking Nazi atrocities against Jews during World War II as justification for its aggression against Ukraine.

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