On the afternoon of November 26, an airstrike was carried out on Damascus International Airport. Photos and videos taken from inside the airport at the time of the attack showed three mushrooms of smoke rising from three precision hits at equal distances on the airfield’s runway.
The attack came a day after the airport resumed operations on November 25, after being shut down for about a month following previous strikes. Damascus International Airport is used as an air gateway to the Iranian weapons corridor; thus, its runways are attacked almost routinely. The Iranians take advantage of the civilian passenger plane traffic from Iran to Syria to smuggle weapons. It seems that since the beginning of the war on October 7, they have been trying to do so more vigorously.
When we examined the photos and videos taken at the airport at the time of the attack, we identified an Airbus A310-304 belonging to an Iranian airline called Yazd Air. The company was unknown to us. This is a new private Iranian airline that was established in Iran in May 2022 and began operating in February 2023. Its main base is the airport in the city of Yazd (Yazd Shahid Sadooghi).
From a video clip at the time of the attack (November 26). Yazd Air’s Airbus A310-304 tail photographed at the time of the strike.
We do not know at this stage whether this is a coincidence when, at the exact time of the attack on the airport, a plane belonging to a new Iranian airline was there. However, when Yazd Air was founded and at least during the first few months since it began operating– in February 2023 – it did not operate independently. The company was based on Mahan Air’s logistics infrastructure and operated with its assistance. Mahan Air’s ties to the IRGC and its arms smuggling activities to Syria and Lebanon were detailed at length by us in a special report published in December 2022.
As of this writing, the nature of the relationship between Yazd Air and Mahan Air is unclear. The timing of the attack while the Yazd Air plane was on site may not have been accidental. It is possible that the IRGC also began using Yazd Air Airbus planes as part of the air corridor to smuggle weapons and as part of their efforts to “rattle” intelligence services, complicating surveillance efforts.
It should be noted that according to the company’s publications, it operates commercial, domestic and international flights, while international flights are carried out by the company’s two Airbus A310 aircraft to Dubai (Emirates), Istanbul (Turkey), Mumbai (India) and Najaf (Iraq). We did not locate any of the Company’s advertisements regarding commercial flights to Damascus.
Appendix – The Company’s fleet of aircraft (a total of five):
2 Airbus A310
2 ERJ145 Embraer
1 BAE146 – Purchased from Mahan Air
Source: Alma Institute (Israel)