Israeli jets have repeatedly targeted Syrian airports since October 7
Spreading conflict to other countries in the Middle East is “unacceptable,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday, discussing a spate of recent Israeli airstrikes with his Syrian counterpart.
Lavrov brought up the issue of Israeli airstrikes, “which have become more frequent against the backdrop of events around the Gaza Strip,” during a phone call with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a readout of the call.
Both ministers “emphasized the danger of attempts by external forces to turn the Middle East, in its current explosive situation, into an arena for settling geopolitical scores,” the readout added.
Mekdad phoned Lavrov to discuss the current situation in Gaza, as well as a number of bilateral issues and the progress in ending the war in Syria. While the 2011 attempt at armed “regime change” backed by the West and some regional powers ended in failure, the north and northeast of Syria are still outside the control of the government in Damascus.
Since the Hamas incursion from Gaza on October 7, Israel has bombed Syria at least three times, repeatedly shutting down the airports in Aleppo and Damascus. One of the attacks was acknowledged by an Israeli ambassador to Germany, who said it was intended to disrupt “weapons deliveries from Iran.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once acknowledged that there have been “hundreds” of strikes into Syria over the past decade. On the rare occasion when Israel Defense Forces (IDF) comment on the attacks, they claim to have acted in pre-emptive self-defense operations against Iran, accusing Tehran of supplying the Hezbollah militants. Damascus has repeatedly protested the raids as a violation of Syrian sovereignty, to no avail.
Lavrov and Mekdad agreed on the need for an “immediate end to the bloodshed” in Gaza and a solution to all the humanitarian problems created by the fighting.
Russia has condemned the Hamas attack but called Israel’s response against Gaza an unacceptable form of “collective punishment” against innocent civilians. Moscow has called for a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians through the creation and recognition of an independent Palestinian state.