The Damascus International Airport represents the main direct connection to the outside world for the regime. Iranian support and weapons continue to flow directly to Syria through the airport, and foreign dignitaries usually arrive in Syria through the airport. With recent rebel gains in the Damascus suburbs, particularly in the east and west, the regime's hold on the airport has become increasingly tenuous. The airport has been closed repeatedly to foreign airlines as fighting raged around the airport and the road leading into the capital. During the last week of January, the rebels were close enough to the airport to open fire on an Iranian air force Boeing 747-131 that was reportedly carrying weapons and equipment destined for the Syrian regime. For both symbolic and practical reasons, the regime will continue to exert considerable efforts to push back the rebels encroaching on the airport.