Before and after photos of a possible Iranian missile factory in Syria.
(photo credit: IMAGESAT INTERNATIONAL (ISI))
Satellite images released by the Israeli intelligence firm ImageSat International (ISI) on Sunday showed the complete destruction of a possible Iranian surface-to-surface missile factory in Syria’s Masyaf District, allegedly struck by Israel on Saturday.
“The main industrial structures were completely destroyed, including the main hangar and the adjacent three production hangers and buildings. The rest of the structures were affected and damaged by the blast,” ISI said, adding that they “assess that all the elements and/or equip-ment which were inside are completely destroyed as well.”
According to ISI, “if the bombed site was indeed a missile factory, it could allow for the produc-tion and assembly of different SSM [surface-to-surface missile] elements or for improving the accuracy of missiles.”
The factory, ISI said, is located in the vicinity of other facilities likely linked to Iran’s SSM project in Syria, which have previously been struck in alleged Israeli strikes carried out over the past two years.
The factory was built in the western compound of the base between 2014 and 2016, and was surrounded by a wall to separate it from the rest of the military base. The entrance to the fac-tory passes through the base.
“It is possible that the location of the factory inside what looks like a regular military base was chosen in order to camouflage its real purpose,” ISI said.
While ISI wrote, “It is unclear which entity controls and owns the base” – the Syrian army, Iran or militias – if the factory allegedly attacked by Israel was “indeed controlled by Iran, it is prob-able that the eastern part of the base is controlled by them.”
The possible SSM missile factory included a main hangar measuring 60 meters by 25 meters, and several big industrial hangars and buildings which probably served for production and as-sembly of missiles.
“However, there is probably no manufacture or assembly of missile engines and warheads in this factory, since protected structures weren’t detected. Also, no missiles or launchers were identified within the compound,” ISI said.
Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah from Tehran to Lebanon via Syria, stressing that both are redlines for the Jewish state.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that anyone who puts Israeli citizens at risk “is in a much greater danger.”
“When Israel’s security is at stake, we are operating at full force, and whoever puts us at risk is in a much greater danger. We will continue to act on all fronts, including on the northern front, because we are not prepared to allow someone to establish power and endanger the State of Israel,” he said.
“Power is the guarantee of our existence, and it is the essential and fundamental condition for achieving peace with our neighbors.”
On Saturday, Syria’s SANA news agency reported that Israel had carried out air strikes against military positions near the city of Masyaf in Hama Province. The agency quoted a military source as stating that IDF jets carried out the strike from Lebanese airspace at around 2:30 a.m. and that Syrian air defenses “immediately intercepted the hostile missiles and downed some of them before reaching their targets.”
While SANA said the interception of the Israeli missiles resulted in the destruction of several buildings and the wounding of three “fighters,” according to a report by the London-based Syr-ian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Iranian “elements” and pro-Iranian terrorists were killed and another 17 were injured.
According to SOHR, the strike targeted a Syrian military college in the town and two buildings used by Iranian forces in nearby villages – a development center for medium-range missiles in Zawi and a training camp in Sheikh Ghadban.
In January, Russia deployed its S-300 air defense system to Masyaf. Russia delivered the launcher, radar and command and control vehicle of the advanced air-to-surface missile sys-tem to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in early October as a response to the downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane by Syrian air defenses during an Israeli air strike on Iranian targets the previous month.
The S-300 was not used during this alleged Israeli strike.
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