According to the Russian military, a civil Airbus-320 with 172 passengers on board was trying to land at Damascus airport during the Israeli airstrikes overnight Thursday, but was forced to land instead at the Russian airbase in Hmeymim, the semi-official Sputnik News reported. Israeli F-16 fighter jets shot air-to-surface missiles at a Syrian army and Iranian militia base in a suburb of Damascus, without entering Syrian airspace.
The strikes targeted the Al-Mezzah Military Airport in Damascus’s Mezzah district, home to the Syrian army’s 75th Brigade. The base is located near the village of al-Maquilbiya, and the Center for Scientific Research in Jamaria.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, the civil Airbus-320 with 172 passengers on board was diverted to the Russian airbase in Khmeimim, south-east of the city of Latakia, some 250 miles from Damascus by road.
Inconvenient. But as someone at the Jewish Press Online said in response, the Russians just detained a whole bunch of Israeli passengers who had landed in Moscow airport, schlepped them out and finally shipped them back home. So there.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Thursday that the number of dead as a result of the Israeli attack had risen to 23. According to the Observatory, 15 of those killed were pro-Iranian militias, three of whom were Iranian citizens.