Iranian soldiers prepare to launch a Hawk surface-to-air missile during military maneuvers. (AFP)

March 15, 2019

An Israeli firm published Thursday satellite images saying they “confirm suspicions mentioned in intelligence reports that a plant was established in northwestern Syria as a facility for the production of surface-to-surface (SSM) missiles.”

The plant had been set up near the town of Safita, east of Tartous, the firm said.

“The construction patterns, the compound location and the activity signs at the compound and its region increase the probability that this is a missile manufacturing site,” ImageSat Intl. (ISI) said.

ISI said it detected massive and extensive trails indicating possible “missile launcher activity.”

The images show a site surrounded by a fence, three hangers and a newly built water tower.

“If this site is indeed related to SSM manufacturing, it is possible that two hangers include production line and the third is for manufacture or assembly.”

Buses and vans were detected in the site entrance within the securely fenced compound during recent months, with workers at the site coming and going in patterns consistent with military installations, ISI said.

The firm also identified marks some 500 meters from the site, “probably created by the activity of heavy vehicles such as SSM launchers,” ISI noted, adding that “in our assessment, the tire prints are not related to the activity of quarries operating in the area.”

The images, most recent of which was taken last Tuesday, confirm the report by the Israeli Channel 12 in early February that “Israeli military intelligence has spotted new Iranian attempts to establish a plant to manufacture advanced surface-to-surface missiles on Syrian territory,” according to Hebrew newspaper Maariv’s website.

The site added that the plant is located only eight kilometers north of the Lebanese borders, and it suggested the location to be chosen there to facilitate the transfer of missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The area in which it is established, according to the website, is controlled by the Syrian regime and in the vicinity of Russian SAM (surface-to-air missile) deployment.

Israeli authorities did not comment, neither did Israeli media, which only published the news without comments.

Officials refused to discuss the issue, opening the door to rumors that this silence will be followed by an attack on the plant.

Asharq Al-Awsat

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.