Blasts hit key military airport in Damascus: Syrian state TV

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 12, 2017 6:34 PM

AMMAN (Reuters) - Several major explosions hit Mezzah military airport compound near the Syrian capital Damascus, and ambulances were rushed to the area, Syrian state television said on Friday.

The airport southwest of the capital is a major strategic air base used mainly by Syrian elite Republican Guards and had been a base used to fire rockets at former rebel-held areas in the suburbs of Damascus. State television did not give any further details.

The cause of the explosions was not clear, but a regional defense expert and a senior Syrian armed rebel source said the sounds heard in parts of the capital suggested they could be Israeli warplane strikes.

Israel has in the past targeted positions of Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah group inside Syria where the Iranian-backed group is heavily involved in fighting alongside the Syrian army.

Israeli defense officials have voiced concern that Hezbollah's experience in the Syrian civil war, where it has played a significant role and recently helped the Syrian army regain the eastern sector of the city of Aleppo, has strengthened it.

Rebels operating in the area have said Hezbollah's major arms supply route into Damascus from the Lebanese border has been targeted on several occasions in recent years by air strikes. This has included strikes on convoys of weapons and warehouses.

Damascus airport was also hit by air strikes in 2013. Tel Aviv neither confirms nor denies involvement in striking targets inside Syria. Damascus has also been tightlipped about previous strikes.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by James Dalgleish and Cynthia Osterman)