Although details are still sketchy, Wednesday’s reported air strike appears to
have targeted a military research center near Damascus – a center that fits the
definition of Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center, known by its
French acronym, CERS.
Syrian state television said Israel had hit
“scientific research centers aimed at raising the level of resistance and
self-defense,” a description that fits well with CERS, which has been labeled a
state organization responsible for developing biological and chemical weapons
and transferring them to Hezbollah and Hamas.
Back in 2010, Brig.-Gen.
(res.) Nitzan Nuriel, a former director of the National Security Council’s
Counter-terrorism Bureau, issued a warning to the international community, saying
CERS would be demolished if it continued to arm terrorist organizations. The
facility has long been on Israel’s radar as a top national security
In 2005 then-US president George W. Bush designated CERS a
weapons proliferator, and in 2003 the US Treasury banned trade with three of its
In 2004, Israel’s Intelligence and Terrorism Information
Center said CERS was developing ricin-based chemical weapons.
In the confusion of conflicting
reports, the narrative that dominated Wednesday’s headlines held that Hezbollah
had tried to import strategic weapons from Syria to add to its growing arsenal,
and that a weapons convoy had been struck.
It is too soon to know which
claim is true. It is possible that both are.
Hezbollah is pointing more
than 50,000 rockets at Israel and can strike deep into the Israeli home front,
meaning the IDF needs to retain its operational edge and ensure that in any
future conflict it will not be hindered by new Syrian arms.
hours and days should shed more light on what occurred in Syria on Wednesday,
and what the repercussions of the reported airstrike might be.