Iranian plane allegedly goes up in flames at Syria airport.
(photo credit: Youtube screenshot)
Syrian rebels claimed on Thursday that rebel forces had hit an Iranian plane
suspected of carrying weapons to Iran while it was on the runway in the Damascus
According to the reports emerging from Syrian rebel sources, the
forces fired at the plane with anti-aircraft weaponry on Wednesday as it landed
at the airport.
The plane apparently crashed at the airport, exploded and
went up in flames, causing a fire at the main terminal, opposition activists
Video released by opposition activists showed a large airliner
flying before it appeared to be struck with a fireball.
Al Jazeera quoted
opposition sources that said the smoke from the explosion and fighting in the
area caused a stoppage to passenger traffic.
The network quoted that the
Syrian official media reported that a fire broke out because of an electrical
The video and the rebel claim could not be immediately
verified independently because the Syrian government restricts the access of
outside journalists to conflict zones.
The Syrian Arab News Agency quoted
the Damascus International Airport Administration as denying the reports,
stating that the airport continued to operate normally.
by some media outlets, which are partners in the bloodshed of the Syrians,
regarding the airport is false and untrue,” it said.
Syrian state media
insisted that flights were arriving and departing on schedule.
about a dozen students at Damascus University's architecture college were killed
in separate mortar attacks.
State television also showed footage from a
cafeteria at Damascus University where the floors were soaked with blood
following the mortar strike.
State media blamed the attacks on the
opposition, while activists were divided on whether the mortar fire is coming
from rebels or the regime's army.
“This is the constant situation in
Damascus,” said Riyad, an activist who asked to be identified by his first name
only for security sake.
He blamed the rebels for the shelling, saying:
“I’m against this.”
The Syrian capital, which during much of the two-year-
old conflict had been a haven from the violence in the rest of the country, has
increasingly come under attack in recent weeks.
The airport has been a
target of the rebels for several months, and clashes regularly erupt on the
highway leading there. While the facility has not been officially closed, few
flights now arrive or depart.
“Anything that lands at the airport is
targeted," said Capt. Islam Aloush, with the Islam Brigade, one of the largest
rebel groups in Damascus, “because the airport has become solely a military
Aloush said there was no definitive confirmation the Iranian
plane was carrying weapons.
The alleged downing of the plane came just
days after Secretary of State John Kerry confronted Iraqi Prime Minister
Nouri al- Maliki about continuing to grant Iran access to its
US officials believe Iran is sending weapons and fighters to
the Syrian government and giving it the upper hand militarily in the ongoing
conflict with opposition fighters.
Iran has denied supplying the regime
with weapons.The Los Angeles Times/MCT and Jerusalem Post staff
contributed to this report.