TEL AVIV – Satellite images released on Saturday by an Israeli intelligence firm show the destruction resulting from an alleged Israeli airstrike on an Iranian missile production facility in northwestern Syria last month.
The facility has in the past reportedly been used to produce and store chemical weapons. It was overseen by Dr. Aziz Asbar, a top Syrian chemical weapons and rocket scientist, who was killed earlier this month when his car exploded in Masayaf in northwestern Syria. A senior official from a Middle East intelligence agency said the Israeli Mossad was responsible for the assassination, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
According to that report, Israel had reason to believe that Asbar was leading a top-secret weapons development program called Sector 4 at the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center. He was collaborating with Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force, and rebuilding a subterranean weapons factory to replace the one said to have been destroyed by Israel last year.
Before and after images showing destruction of a Syrian missile facility (Photo: Intelli Times)
The satellite images, released by the Israeli website Intelli Times, showed the facility both two days before the alleged attack on July 22 and in its aftermath. The facility was in charge of the production of the Syrian versions of Iran’s Fateh 110 surface-to-surface missiles, which have a range of approximately 200 km, according to the report.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights at the time said a “workshop supervised by Iranians where surface-to-surface missiles are made” was attacked.
“Iranian forces and forces from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement are deployed in that sector,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
According to Intelli Times, the facility was one of two centers run by Asbar in the area, the other being a local site of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (CERS).
CERS has been associated with the manufacture of chemical weapons, including sarin gas.
Syria alleged that Israel targeted the CERS facility in a September 2017 strike that left two dead. Less than three months later, there was another strike on the facility.
Israel has not intervened in the Syrian war but has vowed to do everything in its power to stop Iran from entrenching itself militarily in the country.
In May, Israel destroyed more than 50 Iranian targets in the most extensive military strike in Syria since 1974.
The strikes were a response to a barrage of rockets launched by Iranian forces at military targets on the Golan Heights following President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. was withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear deal.
The nationwide attack used IAF fighter jets, precision missiles, and heavy artillery including cannon fire from the 282nd Golan Artillery Brigade.
In July, Syrian forces closed in on the border with the Israeli Golan Heights after a takeover of southern Syria from rebels and Islamic State fighters, prompting accusations from Israel that the Assad regime was in violation of the 1974 ceasefire agreement.