The Oct. 12 airstrikes on airports in Damascus and Aleppo, which were attributed to Israel, not only forced Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to land in Baghdad instead of Damascus but also stopped an Iranian shipment of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles from landing in the city, Israel Hayom reported on Tuesday.
The report, which appears to be accurate, noted that a Mahan Air Airbus A340-313 took off from Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport en route to Damascus on Tuesday carrying 10 tons of missiles, and that the Damascus airport was hit 10 minutes before it was scheduled to land.
The strike on the landing strip at the Aleppo airport was intended to prevent the flight from diverting there, according to the report. With both airports out of commission, the plane had no choice but to head back to Iran.
In December 2022, the Alma Center, an Israeli defense research group, noted in a report that Mahan Air, based in Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport, serves “as a central arm of the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] Quds Force, as part of the civilian cover for the transfer of weapons components from Iran to Syria and Lebanon in the framework of the Iranian corridor.”
“I have no doubt what was loaded into that Airbus A340 was weapons, as I saw from a distance. I couldn’t guess the type of the weapons as they were inside pallets. I saw the pallets arriving from the Quds Force’s storage facility,” said an unnamed eyewitness in Iran, according to the report.
“After the pallets were loaded, several senior officers from the Revolutionary Guards boarded the plane. They were supposed to accompany Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian to his meeting with leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah in Damascus. However, as mentioned, the minister’s arrival was also canceled due to the explosion and it had to land in Baghdad,” it added.
Amir-Abdollahian later traveled to Damascus by land from Beirut, where he met with Syrian President Bashar Assad. In Iraq, prior to arriving in Lebanon, the Iranian minister reportedly met with Hamas Deputy Chief Saleh al-Arouri and the Secretary-General of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ziyad Nahala.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese-Israeli border remains tense as Hezbollah continues to fire anti-tank missiles and rockets at Israel.
The Israel Defense Forces said on Wednesday that anti-tank missiles were fired toward Kibbutz Manara and the Rosh HaNikra area adjacent to the Lebanese border. The IDF returned fire, striking the origins of the attack and targets belonging to Hezbollah.
IDF confirms Gazan hospital blast caused by Islamic Jihad
Meanwhile, on the southern front, the IDF took the unusual step on Wednesday of releasing intercepted radio communications between Hamas terrorist operatives in Gaza, in which they revealed that the explosion at Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City was caused by a failed Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket.
“I’m telling you this is the first time that we see a missile like this falling and so that’s why we are saying it belongs to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” says the first speaker in the recording, in Arabic.
“They are saying it belongs to PIJ,” he continues.
“It’s from us?” asks a second man.
“It looks like it.”
“Who says this?”
“They are saying that the shrapnel from the missile is local shrapnel and not like Israeli shrapnel,” says the first individual.
“But God Bless, it couldn’t have found another place to explode?”
“Never mind, yes… they shot it from the cemetery behind the hospital.”
“They shot it coming from the cemetery behind the Al-Ma’amadani Hospital, and it misfired and fell on them.”
The IDF has stated that the PIJ rocket was carrying a large warhead, and that most of the explosive material detonated upon impact.
Images of the impact site taken by an Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle also indicate that the damage does not tally with that caused by Israeli munitions.
The Israeli military began sharing the details of its investigation into the incident a couple of hours after Hamas sources in Gaza reported it as an Israeli airstrike that had killed hundreds of people.
According to Hagari, Israel has not yet established a casualty figure for the event.
In an official statement, the IDF noted that since the beginning of the war with Hamas, approximately 450 rockets launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip had fallen inside the enclave.