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Syria Today – Israel Strikes Syrian Airports Again; Drone Attack on U.S. Base

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

On Sunday, the SANA state news agency reported that Israeli air raids struck both main airports, resulting in the unfortunate death of a civilian worker at Damascus airport and injuring another. Simultaneously, in southern Syria, a military base housing U.S. troops for training purposes in the broader campaign against the Islamic State group faced a drone attack on Thursday, as disclosed by two U.S. officials to The Associated Press.

Syria says Israel hit Damascus, Aleppo airports again amid Gaza bombing

The SANA state news agency said on Sunday that Israeli air raids targeted the two main airports, “leading to the death of a civilian worker at Damascus airport and wounding another”.

“Material damage to the airports’ runways put them out of service,” it quoted an unnamed military source as saying in a statement.

Flights have been diverted to the airport in the port city of Latakia, the Syrian Ministry of Transport said in a statement.

According to Al-Jazeera, Israeli air raids have repeatedly targeted the two airports in the past, causing flights to be grounded and inflicting human casualties and material damage, but this is the second time simultaneous strikes have hit the facilities since the beginning of Israeli bombardment of besieged Gaza after Hamas’s October 7 attacks inside Israel that have killed more than 1,400 people.

Israeli bombardments have killed about 4,400 people in Gaza, according to the latest figures, with many victims being women and children.

Simultaneous air raids hit the airports in both cities on October 12, with Syria saying they knocked out the two at the time as well.

Israeli strikes targeted the Aleppo separately last weekend as well. A war monitor reported that the attack also put the airport out of service and wounded five people.

Earlier this month, a drone attack hit a military college in Syria’s Homs province, which according to a war monitor killed more than 100 people.

Drones attack a US military base in southern Syria and there are minor injuries, US officials say

A military base in southern Syria where U.S. troops have maintained a presence to train forces as part of a broad campaign against the Islamic State group was attacked by drones on Thursday, two U.S. officials told The Associated Press.

One drone was shot down, but another caused in minor injuries, said one of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter before an official announcement about the incident.

The attacks follow similar drone strikes over the past few days against U.S. and coalition bases in Iraq amid simmering anger in the region after an explosion at a Gaza hospital killed hundreds of people.

The al-Tanf garrison in southeastern Syria is located at a sensitive juncture often used by Iranian-backed militants to ferry weapons to Hezbollah.

Syrian opposition activists also said Thursday a drone attack was conducted on an oil facility in eastern Syria that houses American troops.

Omar Abu Layla, a Europe-based activist who heads the Deir Ezzor 24 media outlet, said three drones with explosives struck the Conoco gas field in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour that borders Iraq.

Rami Abdurrahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, confirmed that five explosions were heard at the Conoco gas field.

French Prosecutors Seek Arrest of Two Syrian Ex-Ministers over 2017 Bomb

French prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for two Syrian ex-defense ministers over a 2017 bomb that killed a French-Syrian man, a source said, in an unprecedented case that may trigger more quests for accountability in the 12-year war, Asharq al-Awsat reported.

Investigators at the Paris Tribunal are accusing Fahed Jassem al-Fraij and Ali Abdallah Aroub of responsibility for the barrel bomb in south Syria that killed Salah Abou Nabout at his home, according to the source familiar with the case.

Al-Fraij was defense minister and commander in chief of the army at the time while Aroub was chief of staff of the armed forces, later promoted to defense minister.

The pair’s whereabouts were unknown and they could not be reached for comment.

Warrants were also issued for two other high-ranking officers, the source said.

Nabout died on June 7, 2017, when a barrel stuffed with explosives hit his three-storey home, which also served as a school, in the city of Daraa, said Nabout’s son Omar.

The crude weapon has been used extensively by government forces, UN investigators say, generally dropped from helicopters without accurate aim. Syria denies their use.

Syrian authorities could not be reached for comment on the warrants, but Damascus has repeatedly denied accusations of indiscriminate bombing of civilians.

The Paris Tribunal declined to comment on the case.

Nabout’s son Omar, a 21-year-old refugee in France at the time of his father’s death, and the Paris-based Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCMFE) both welcomed the arrest warrants.

If he could talk to his father now, Omar said in a video interview, “I would tell him to sleep in peace, because the criminals will be held to account.”

Thousands of bombs

SCMFE head Mazen Darwish said the warrants could pave the way for further investigations on indiscriminate bombardment both around war-ravaged Syria and in other places like Ukraine or the Palestinian territories.

“It’s the first time there’s a case regarding the targeting of civilian infrastructure, specifically a school,” for Syria, he told Reuters.

Syria’s conflict began with peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces responded with a brutal crackdown. As Assad began losing territory, his air force bombed opposition-held towns and were supported by Russian air strikes.

Both Syrian and Russian strikes hit open-air markets, hospitals, schools, and homes in what UN experts have said were indiscriminate bombardments and potential war crimes.

Maenza meets SDF’s Abdi, calls on US to stop Turkish attacks on NE Syria

North Press reported that Former chair of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Nadine Maenza stated on Friday meeting with Commander in Chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Mazloum Abdi, and called on the US to stop Turkey from conducting attacks in northeastern Syria.

Maenza called, on the social media platform X (previously Twitter),to support the SDF and the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) “to build long-term peace and stability.”

She added that the SDF and AANES were successful in filling “the governance and security voids that otherwise would have been filled by Islamists and Iranian militias. This is how to build long-term peace and stability and keep ISIS from rising again. This also stops #Iran’s land bridge to Israel and Lebanon.”

“THIS is how to stop a ‘forever war’,” she stated.

Maenza also called on the US “to stop Turkey as they threaten another phase of attacks after the 200+ airstrikes that recently targeted electrical & water plants, hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure leaving 2 million without electricity and water. According to the Geneva Convention, these are war crimes.”

From Oct.5th to Oct. 9th, Turkey attacked 104 sites in northern and northeastern Syria, including vital infrastructure such as power, gas, and water stations and educational facilities, with more than 580 air and ground strikes, according to a statement by the AANES.


‘It is our duty’: The Syrian aid organisations rushing to Gaza

When Asmaa al-Daher, a pharmacist and aid worker based in Turkey, went home to Gaza for a visit just over two weeks ago, she had little idea that one of the most brutal military campaigns her besieged home had ever faced was about to begin.

Although she was already experienced in providing humanitarian relief to victims of war through her work in Syria with Al-Ameen for Humanitarian Support, al-Daher was not prepared for what was to come in Gaza.

“I’ve witnessed many wars during my life, but I never anything like this,” the 27-year-old said in a voice message she sent to a colleague in Turkey by WhatsApp.

After being displaced five times inside Gaza within a couple of weeks, al-Daher is now in Rafah on the border with Egypt. In her five-minute WhatsApp recording, she tried to explain to Yasser al-Tarraf the reality she is living.

In a trembling, rushed voice as she tried to finish recording before the internet failed, she said: “These are the worst days for the Palestinian people – genocide and massacres in all neighborhoods.”

Al-Tarraf told Al Jazeera that al-Daher has been working around the clock to coordinate with authorities on the ground to get resources and aid where they are needed most.

“We’ve witnessed displacement and killing in Syria, so our sympathy with Gaza is great.”

Al-Ameen, a Syrian organisation, has been working in the Gaza Strip for the past two years, providing humanitarian support and vocational training. Since the bombing began two weeks ago, it has focused on helping to distribute food and resources.

A matter of life or death for the besieged

There are a number of relief organisations that sprang up during Syria’s civil war, to deal with the damage left by years of bombing campaigns, displacements and repeated sieges that different parts of Syria have undergone.

After a few years, some became strong enough to provide relief to victims of disasters in other countries and, recently, some of them began operating in Gaza.

The Emergency Response Team is a humanitarian organisation in northwestern Syria, outside the Syrian regime’s control and as such has been able to operate overseas, including in Lebanon, Libya and Morocco, and Palestine since 2021.

“We’re trying to provide assistance to any country that needs it,” head of operations Dulama Ali told Al Jazeera.

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