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Satellite images show Syria site ‘completely destroyed’ in raid attributed to Israel

Apparent underground site in Masyaf related to nearby research center was repeatedly targeted in Friday’s airstrikes, imaging service claims

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

This photo released by ImageSat International on May 15, 2022, shows sites allegedly struck by Israel in the Masyaf region of Syria. (ImageSat International)
This photo released by ImageSat International on May 15, 2022, shows sites allegedly struck by Israel in the Masyaf region of Syria. (ImageSat International)

An Israeli satellite company and intelligence firm published images Sunday it said showed the damage at an underground facility in Syria from airstrikes days earlier that were attributed to Israel.

On Friday night at least five people were killed and seven others were hurt in the alleged Israeli airstrike in the northwestern Masyaf region of Syria, the country’s state news agency said. Other media in the country said six were killed, all crew members of a Pantsir air defense system who attempted to take down the purported Israeli missiles.

ImageSat International (ISI) said the airstrikes targeted an apparent underground facility. “The structures were used as an entrance to underground tunnels. ISI has detected that the structures have been completely destroyed,” the firm said.

The site was also struck in September 2018, and had since been rebuilt, according to ISI’s imagery. The firm said it assessed that the facility was related to the nearby Scientific Studies and Research Center, known as CERS, which was struck in airstrikes attributed to Israel in April.

The Masyaf area is thought to be used as a base for Iranian forces and pro-Iranian militias and has been repeatedly targeted in recent years in attacks attributed to Israel. 

Western officials have long associated CERS with the manufacture of chemical arms. According to the United States, sarin gas was developed at that center, a charge denied by the Syrian authorities. The site has been struck numerous times in the past.

This photo released by ImageSat International on May 15, 2022, shows sites allegedly struck by Israel in the Masyaf region of Syria. (ImageSat International)

Friday’s airstrikes were the second alleged Israeli strike on the country in days, after missiles were reportedly launched at a site just across the border from Israel in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday.

There was no immediate comment from the Israel Defense Forces, which does not normally comment on individual strikes.

Israel has carried out hundreds of sorties over Syria in the last decade, mostly to stymie attempts by Iranian forces to transfer weapons or establish a foothold.

Israeli strikes have continued in Syrian airspace, which is largely controlled by Russia, even as ties with Moscow have deteriorated in recent weeks. Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as it has increasingly supported Ukraine, while seeking to maintain freedom of movement in Syria’s skies.

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