Monday, June 13, 2022
On the special directives of Aviation Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight will depart from Syria today (Monday) to bring back Pakistanis stranded in the war-torn country due to the Israeli bombing of the Damascus airport.
The PIA finalised plans to send a flight to Syria after a request was made via a letter by the Pakistani envoy in Damascus. The letter was addressed to the PIA CEO and the Government of Pakistan.
In the letter, the envoy asked the national carrier to send its plane to the Syrian city of Aleppo as the airport in Damascus was unusable.
A statement issued by PIA said that the flights to bring back the stranded Pakistanis will leave on June 13.
As per the plan, in the first phase, the Pakistanis in Damascus will be transported to Aleppo via a bus from where the PIA flight will bring them back.
A day earlier, Syria had confirmed major damage, including to runways at the Damascus International Airport, after it was closed for repairs due to Israeli air strikes.
The transport ministry said in a statement that runways were out of service.
Since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes against its neighbour, targeting government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and fighters from Lebanon's militant group Hezbollah.
But rarely have such attacks caused major flight disruptions. The ministry said air traffic would remain suspended until repair work is finished and airport security can be assured.
"Civil aviation and national companies are working... to repair the sizeable damage at the airport," the ministry said, adding a terminal building was also hit.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the missile strike before dawn on Friday hit the only runway still in service at the airport, as well as several adjacent buildings. Israeli bombing last year had disabled another runway, it said.
"The runway, the control tower, three hangars, warehouses as well as reception rooms were badly damaged by the Israeli strikes," the Observatory said.
Syrian state media had reported that a volley of missiles was fired from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights at around 4:20 am (0120 GMT) on Friday.
Syria's ally Russia strongly condemned "the provocative Israeli attack against essential civilian infrastructure".