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Syria Today – Israel Bombs Damascus Airport; Massacre in Idleb; Army Sends Reinforcements to Deir-ez-Zor

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.

Sunday saw Israeli airstrikes rendering Damascus airport non-operational, leading to the redirection of incoming flights, according to both the Syrian army and a pro-government newspaper. Simultaneously, Syrian government forces shelled a northwestern village on Saturday, resulting in the tragic death of at least 10 people, including seven children who were picking olives. Additionally, the Fourth Division of the Syrian government forces dispatched military reinforcements to its posts in the town of al-Boukamal in the eastern countryside of Deir-ez-Zor on Saturday.

Syria says Israel strike puts Damascus airport out of service

Israeli air strikes put Damascus airport out of service on Sunday, forcing incoming flights to be diverted elsewhere, the Syrian army and a pro-government newspaper said.

Israel has for years carried out strikes against what it has described as Iranian-linked targets in Syria, including against Aleppo and Damascus airports, Reuters reports.

The Syrian army said in a statement its air defences intercepted Israeli missiles flying from the Golan Heights. It said the Israeli strikes, which also targeted outposts in the Damascus countryside, led only to material losses but did not elaborate on the extent of damage to the country’s biggest civilian airport. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

Flights scheduled to arrive in Damascus were being diverted to Lattakia and Aleppo, Al Watan newspaper said.

At least 10 people killed in Syrian government shelling of a rebel-held village, the opposition says

Quoting a paramedic group and relatives of the victims, the Associated Press reported that Syrian government forces shelled a northwestern village Saturday killing at least 10 people, including seven children, as they picked olives.

The shelling of the village of Qawqafeen, in Idlib province, is the latest violation of a truce reached in March 2020 between Russia and Turkey, who back rival sides in Syria’s 12-year conflict that has killed half a million people.

Syrian government officials have not commented on the strike.

Hundreds of people have been killed or wounded over the past years in violations of the truce that ended a monthslong Russian-backed government offensive on northwestern Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria.

The shelling of the farm was reported by the Britain-based opposition war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets.

The White Helmets said it treated one woman who was wounded and handed over the bodies of the dead to their families.

Omar Qadda, whose cousin, Abdallah Saeed, was killed in the strike along with Saeed’s children, sister and sister’s children, said he was nearby when the shells landed and rushed to the scene.

“There was no attack launched from our area,” he said. “They were civilians and children.”

Munir Mustafa, deputy director of civil defence, said the emergency responders have seen an escalation in strikes launched by government forces since October, including on farmers.

US forces came under attack 4 times in Iraq and Syria on Thanksgiving

CNN reported that US and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria came under attack four separate times on Thanksgiving Day, according to a US official.

On Thursday morning, multiple one-way attack drones were launched against troops at Al-Asad Airbase, and one one-way attack drone targeted Erbil Airbase in Iraq. A multi-rocket attack was also launched against forces at Mission Support Site Euphrates in Syria. On Thursday afternoon, another one-way attack drone was launched against forces at Mission Support Site Green Village in Syria.

All four followed an attack on Wednesday afternoon when a one-way attack drone was launched against Erbil Airbase, the official said.

There were no casualties or infrastructure damage reported in any of the attacks, according to the official.

The latest attacks mark at least 73 against US and coalition forces since October 17. They also follow a US air strike on Tuesday evening – Wednesday morning local time – on two facilities used by the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah group in Iraq.

US Central Command said that the airstrikes were “in direct response to the attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces by Iran and Iran-backed groups, including the one in Iraq on November 21, which involved the use of close-range ballistic missiles.”

A defence official added that the facilities – an operations center and command and control node near Al Anbar and Jurf al Saqr, Iraq, south of Baghdad – were used by Kataib Hezbollah to “support recent attacks on US and coalition bases in Iraq and Syria.”

At least eight Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah fighters were killed and four others wounded following the US strikes, the group said in a statement.

While the strikes were the first in Iraq since attacks on US and coalition forces began, they were the fourth US strike against targets associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps since the attacks started on October 17.

Government sends military reinforcements to Syria’s Deir-ez-Zor

The Fourth Division of the Syrian government forces sent on Saturday military reinforcements to its military posts in the town of al-Boukamal in the eastern countryside of Deir-ez-Zor, eastern Syria, North Press reported.

A military source from the government forces told North Press that the Fourth Division transferred ammunition and more than 200 soldiers from Homs, central Syria, to the town of Abu Kamal. The military reinforcements were deployed in three headquarters that were newly established in al-Boukamal neighbourhoods.

Residents are concerned that more taxes will be imposed on them, as groups of the National Defense Forces of the government forces have already imposed taxes continually, according to the source.

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