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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Al Safir
3602'02"N 3721'03"E

On 27 May 2005 Syria test-fired three Scud missiles, the first such Syrian missile tests since 2001. The missiles included one Scud B, with a range of about 300 kilometers, and a pair of Scud D's, with a range of about 700 kilometers. The missiles were launched from Minakh, north of Aleppo in northern Syria. it appears that the missile launchers would have been driven to this air base from their garrison at Al Safir south of Allepo. One flew about 400 kilometers to southernmost Syria, near the border with Jordan. One of the missiles disintegrated over Turkish territory, showering missile parts over two villages in the Turkish province of Hatay. This missile had been fired southwest toward the Mediterranean.

Open sources report that there are at least three Syrian facilities currently engaged in producing Chemical Weapons, located near Damascus, Hama, and Safira village (in the Aleppo area).

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For more Public Eye satellite imagery, see the Picture of the Week Gallery of satellite and other imagery of places in the news.
For more Public Eye satellite imagery, see the Picture of the Week Gallery of satellite and other imagery of places in the news.
Imagery of Al Safir
This imagery is published as a joint initiative with Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's top daily newspaper, and its intelligence correspondent, Ronen Bergman
Click on the small image to view a larger version

Overview of the Middle East with Syria in the center

Al Safir SCUD Base and Weapons Depot, Syria

Tactical Pilotage Chart with NIMA CIB imagery overlayed showing the general location of the Al Safir SCUD base

Tactical Pilotage Chart with NIMA CIB imagery overlayed showing Al Safir

Russian 1:200,00 Map of the Al Safir chemical weapons plant and storage area as of 1980

The CW plant and storage area in the western canyon are visible. The munitions storage area would not be detected until 1987. Work on the underground SCUD base would not be visible until 1995. Completion of the Tunnel complex and the SCUD support base was detected in the July 2002 Digital Globe image

Russian 1:50,000 Map of the Al Safir Scud base as of 1987

Syrian 1:50,000 Map as of 1994. The omission of the facility from the Syrian government's map is a sure indicator that the facility is of military nature

Digital Globe image taken on 30 July 2002 of the Al Safir CW plant and SCUD base. Al Safir is protected by an SA-2 SAM battery

Overview of the probable SCUD support base and underground facility. A munition storage area lies to the right

Close-up of the munitions storage area. Additional storage bunkers have been added between 1987 and 1995

An Russian-build SA-2 surface-to-air-missile site, defending the storage area and underground facility

Close-up of the SA-2 SAM site with Guideline missiles on launchers, Fan Song Radar, and Control Vans. Cable are visible running from the command van to the launchers

Overview of the Al Safir chemical weapons plant. Expansion took place between 1987 and 1995

This high-voltage sub-station is an indicator of the presence of activity requiring a large volume of electricity. A normal warehouse complex would not require this much energy

These forced-air cooling towers also indicate the presense of an industrial process requiring the disposal of waste heat. Chemical processes for nerve agents produce highly unstable intermediates that react explosively with water. Steam-heating and water cooling must be replaced with special heat-exchange fluids and heating oils that require the use of cooling towers rather than steam vents

The co-location of munitions storage igloos within the security perimeter of the processing facility is an additional indicator of the Chemical weapons nature of this plant

The lower storage igloos were added sometime between 1995 and 2002

The munitions storage area on the right was built sometime between 1980 and 1987. The buildings on the left are probably associated with SCUD missiles deployed underground and were built after 1995.

These storage igloos are located at a separate facility, which was built between 1980 and 1987

Between 1995 and 2002 an Underground Facility (UGF) was built as well as above-ground support facilities, possibly to house SCUD-D missiles Syria reportedly acquired in 19XX.

These buildings were built after 1995 and are probably associated with SCUD missiles housed underground. The large building measures 30 x 130 meters

A probable command and control facility, located near the tunnel entrances to an underground facility

The Tunnel entrances are protected by the box canyon walls, from direct attack from precision-guided munitions. Each of the three tunnel portals is more than wide enough to accommodate the Soviet-build MAZ-543 transporter for the SCUD missile

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