New satellite images give credence to reports that a new factory in Syria’s northwest is a facility for the production of surface-to-surface (SSM) missiles, an Israeli intelligence-gathering firm said Wednesday.
The plant near the city of Safita was first reported upon last month by Channel 12 news, which said Israeli officials believe it is a precision missile factory being constructed by Iran in cooperation with the Syrian government and Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.
ImageSat International (ISI) on Wednesday said satellite photos of the compound supported the report.
“The construction patterns, the compound’s location and the signs of activity at the compound and its [surrounding area] increase the probability that this is a missiles manufacturing site,” said the company, which interprets visual intelligence.
It noted that “The compound contains three main hangars which are reminiscent of large industrial buildings. If this site is indeed related to SSM manufacturing, it is possible that two hangars include production lines, and the third is for manufacture or assembly.”
It also said that vehicle activity at the site, particularly the use of buses and vans by workers, followed the pattern of operations at military facilities.
And tracks seen in a nearby area were compatible with those made by SSM launcher vehicles, ISI said.
However, the company noted that “there is probably no manufacturing [or] assembly of missile engines and warheads in this complex, since protected
structures weren’t detected. Also, no missiles or launchers were identified within the compound.”
The Channel 12 report said the factory was intended to focus on producing precision missiles, dramatically upgrading the threat to Israel from the vast arsenal of rockets and missiles deployed against it in southern Lebanon by Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah.
To build it, Channel 12 reported, Iran had to bypass international sanctions on its missile program via a series of straw companies established by Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), a government agency that manufactures weaponry and whose facilities have repeatedly been targeted by Israel in the past.
Those companies — established specifically for that purpose — ordered missile parts from Italy, China and other countries in eastern Asia, the report said. The companies are named the Organization of Technological Industries (OTI) and ANAS Group, according to the report.
Israel has nevertheless discovered, tracked and uncovered the facility, the network said, as part of its effort to thwart Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria.
Israel says it has carried out hundreds of airstrikes on Iranian-linked targets as part of a campaign to prevent Tehran from establishing a military presence in Syria.