Syria, Russia mull plan to triple size of Damascus airport

The government of Syria is reported to be considering building a new international terminal at Damascus Airport, increasing its capacity from 5 million to 15 million and making it a regional hub.

The plans were announced last week by Ali Hamud, the country’s transport minister, during a meeting with Russian investors, news agency TASS reports.

The prospect of construction work at the airport would be complicated by the fact that it is a regular target of Israeli air and rocket strikes aimed at Iranian logistics bases. Just today a statement from the Israeli Defence Force said its jets hit an Iranian ammunition dump in the airport.

Russia has reportedly warned Tel Aviv to halt strikes on the airport. The London-based Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported on Friday that Moscow informed the Israeli government that it intends to renovate Damascus Airport, and that further attacks would not be welcomed.

Russia has in the past taken a permissive attitude to Israeli strikes in Syria, but relations broke down after Russia blamed Israel for the shooting down of an Il-20 reconnaissance plane by Syrian air defences in September last year.

The question of Syrian reconstruction will loom large in coming years, with estimates putting the value of work as high as $400bn.

With Western governments viewing involvement with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime as problematic, Russian companies are in pole position to win what work can be financed.

Dmitry Belik, a deputy of the Russian Duma, told TASS: "There are Russian companies, a business community, that is ready to invest in Damascus airport and that are engaged in construction of terminals, airport infrastructure."

He added: "If we together defended Syria, we should start cooperating in conditions of peace. What is more, there are all prerequisites for this."

Image: Damascus International (Ercan Karakas/GFDL)

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