Date: August 28, 2023
Christine Saddy, Benedetta Bisaccia, Virginia Martos Blanco, Utsav Yadav
Cameron Munoz, Senior Editor
Event: Israel reportedly launched an airstrike targeting Aleppo International Airport in northern Syria early on August 28. According to the Syrian military, Israeli planes flew from the Mediterranean Sea and destroyed the runway, putting it out of service. No injuries were reported. The Israeli military has recently targeted airports in Aleppo and Damascus, eliminating their functionality. Israel has continued to target Syrian military sites and Iranian-backed groups since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, allegedly to stop arms shipments from Iran to Iranian-backed groups in Syria and Lebanon. The city of Aleppo has been suffering since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, and the situation was exacerbated by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria in February 2023.
Significance: The attack will likely worsen tensions between Israel and Iranian-backed groups operating in Syria and Lebanon. Syria will likely leverage its alliances with other regional actors, such as Iran, and seek support and solidarity in condemning the attack. The reopening of diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey will likely influence the Turkish government to increase intelligence agencies' cooperation. The Arab League members will likely differ on the possible resolution and means of support they should provide to reduce the crisis. This divergence will likely increase the discontentment on the reintegration of Syria into the organization and recognition of Israel. The attack will likely raise concerns about the risk of a regional proxy conflict involving various state and non-state actors. The Syrian military’s allegations on the origin of the Israeli planes will likely develop into future accusations against Mediterranean countries, either by Syria or the reportedly targeted Iranian-backed groups. The accusations will likely be an attempt to create friction between European powers and Israel. Possible tensions between European countries and Israel will likely urge the US to increase military support and regional operations to mediate between both parties. Israel will likely protect its ties and interests with Western states to maintain its power and position in the Middle Eastern region. The airstrike will likely influence Iranian-backed groups’s supply chain tactics, pushing them to refrain from shipping their ammunition by air and avoid Syrian military sites and essential airports. Given the logistical challenges for the international community, humanitarian aid, earthquake relief, and international organizations' presence will almost certainly decrease. Suspending flights to Aleppo Airport will almost certainly exacerbate the humanitarian situation in Northern Syria, leading to more famine, illnesses, and crime.
The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) recommends that neighboring countries and regional actors collaborate on stabilizing the region, addressing security concerns, and finding long-term solutions to the conflicts in Syria.
CTG recommends that the international community provide humanitarian assistance, including financial aid and medical support, through other avenues to reach civilians impacted by the conflict and the recent earthquake.
CTG recommends that the UN Security Council pass a measure allowing the re-opening of airports in Damascus and Aleppo to facilitate humanitarian aid into Syria.
CTG recommends that the Gulf Cooperation Council broker a ceasefire between Israel and Syria.
CTG recommends that countries with advanced counterterrorism capabilities, such as the United Arab Emirates, spearhead efforts for regional counterterrorism cooperation.
CTG recommends that the UN Security Council vote to pass a security resolution addressing Iran sending arms to militia groups it supports in Syria.
CTG recommends that Mediterranean countries collaborate on investigating the incident to prevent speculation and disinformation campaigns on the place of origin of the Israeli planes and to avoid tensions with Syria.
If there is any additional and or critical information, please contact us at The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone at 202-643-2848 or email at email@example.com.
 Reported Israeli strike damages Aleppo airport and puts it out of service, AP News, August 2023, https://apnews.com/article/syria-aleppo-airport-israel-airstrike-499397245b51f7fe814a7f873256fc74