Ex-general says targeted Syrian site produced non-conventional weapons

A second defected Syrian general says Iranian, Russian experts ‘habitually present’ at facility reportedly struck by Israel

Former Syrian major general Adnan Sillu (photo credit: YouTube screen capture)
Former Syrian major general Adnan Sillu (photo credit: YouTube screen capture)

A former Syrian general said Friday that the facility reportedly struck by Israel on Wednesday, near Damascus, produced non-conventional weapons, in addition to conventional arms.

Maj. Gen. Adnan Sillu was previously in charge of the country’s chemical weapons training program.

Sillu’s comments, reported by Israel Radio, seemed inconsistent with those of another ex-general, who claimed on Thursday that there were no chemical weapons at the facility northwest of the Syrian capital.

Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal also said Thursday that Iranian and Russian experts were “habitually present” at the facility.

Both Sillu and al-Shallal defected to the ranks of the Syrian rebels last year.

On Wednesday, Syrian officials said Israeli planes struck a “research facility” northwest of the capital. The accusation came after reports from foreign news sources earlier in the day that said Israel had hit a weapons convoy near the Syria-Lebanon border that was transferring arms to the terror group Hezbollah.

Syrian Army Chief of Staff General Ali Abdullah Ayoub told troops on Thursday that the war with Israel is ongoing and will never end, according to state news agency SANA.

Ayoub also charged that Israel was backing rebel groups who were conducting “organized terrorism against the Syrian people.”

The two countries are formally in a state of war, but a tenuous ceasefire has held since 1974 despite multiple cross-border incidents in recent months.

On Thursday, Iran threatened Israel over the reported strike.

“The Israeli regime’s strike on Syria will have serious consequences for Tel Aviv,” one of Tehran’s deputy foreign ministers was quoted by the semi-official PressTV network as saying.

Iran is a major backer of both Syrian President Bashar Assad and Lebanon-based Hezbollah.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi condemned the airstrike on state television, calling it a clear violation of Syria’s sovereignty. His statement echoed similar condemnations from Russia, the Arab League and Hezbollah.

Ilan Ben Zion and Aaron Kalman contributed to this report.

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