Why Strike Near Damascus Airport Could Have Been 'a Deliberate Provocation'

© AP Photo / Hassan AmmarDamascus, Syria. (File)
Damascus, Syria. (File) - Sputnik International
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Israel's recent alleged strike on a site near Damascus International Airport could have been aimed at testing the waters of the political situation in the region, Russian geopolitical analyst Konstantin Sokolov told Radio Sputnik, adding that it is part of the same trend as an earlier US missile strike on Shayrat airfield in Syria.

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An alleged Israeli strike against a site near Damascus International Airport in Syria could have been aimed at testing the waters with the international community, Konstantin Sokolov, Deputy Director of the Russian Academy of Geopolitical Problems told Radio Sputnik.

On Thursday, a large explosion occurred close to the Damascus airport, with initial reports claiming that it was an Israeli attack on a supposed Hezbollah supply hub.

Commenting on the strike, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told Army Radio that "the incident in Syria fully fits in with Israel's policies… of countering Iranian attempts to supply modern weapons to Hezbollah through Syria."

Katz also cited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pledge to continue Israeli efforts to prevent the alleged delivery of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah, which is fighting on the side of the Syrian government forces. The group, which was founded in the mid-1980s, is viewed by Tel Aviv as a terrorist organization.

Interestingly enough, Katz shied away from claiming responsibility for the strike. For its part, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) press office refrained from commenting on the matter.

Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Sokolov noted that still there is little information available on the attack. However, according to the geopolitical analyst, the recent strike falls within the same trend as the previous US missile strike at the Shayrat airfield in Syria.

"This incident should be considered together with the [US] missile strike authorized earlier [by US President Donald] Trump. These actions are aimed at the internationalization of the Syrian conflict," Sokolov emphasized.

© Sputnik / Mikhail Voskresenskiy / Go to the photo bankThe aftermath of a US missile strike at the Shayrat military field in Syria
The aftermath of a US missile strike at the Shayrat military field in Syria - Sputnik International
The aftermath of a US missile strike at the Shayrat military field in Syria

"If the strike was really conducted by the Israeli Air Force this is a direct violation of international law," the analyst stressed, assuming that the attack wasn't aimed at turning the tide in someone's favor.

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The analyst believes that one shouldn't exclude that the real objective of those who sanctioned the attack was to put out feelers to see how the countries involved in the fight against terrorism in the region will react to this strike.

"First of all, this is a show of force aimed at examining the situation in the world: how other countries would react and what actions they will take [in response to such a strike]. If it is confirmed, it will mean that it was a deliberate provocation," Sokolov emphasized, calling attention to the fact that the strike didn't happen somewhere in the Syrian desert.

Sokolov suggested that the Syrian government will continue to use diplomatic measures to avoid the escalation and internationalization of the conflict.

Meanwhile, speaking to Sputnik Arabia, a Syrian military source denied the existence of a Hezbollah weapons depot near Damascus International Airport. 

According to the source, these reports are being spread by some Western and Arab media "to justify Israeli aggression."

"The Israeli Air Force has repeatedly committed acts of military aggression in Syria, taking advantage of the presence of international troops on its territory. But these repeated violations will not go unanswered by the Syrian [Arab] Army," the source told Sputnik.

The source also confirmed that during the attack, the Syrian Arab Army's weaponry stockpile referred to as "Hezbollah's warehouse" by some media outlets was not affected by the recent strike.

Hostilities between Israel and Syria have repeatedly escalated, with the Israeli Air Force aircraft hitting targets in Syria in response to cross-border fire incidents.

In March 2017, Damascus warned Tel Aviv that it will retaliate if Israel continues to conduct airstrikes on Syrian territory.

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