The spokesperson for the Syrian military admitted yesterday that IAF aircraft attacked a military facility in Syrian territory. According to the statement by the military spokesperson, the facility that was attack was the military center for weaponry research and development.
The facility is part of a military complex that includes schools, war reserve units, training areas for special forces, and a communication center by a Syrian-Korean company. The facility also houses the technological school that belongs to the Syrian agency for scientific research, which is entrusted with developing the country’s unconventional weapons, including the arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. The military complex which neighbors the Jamariah neighborhood is protected by Russian-produced antiaircraft missile batteries.
However, what exactly is the facility? Ronen Solomon provides an extensive review of the facilities that was attacked by IAF aircraft according to the publications.
The Syrian Studies and Research Center (SSRC), an innocent-sounding name for the top entity that deals with highly confidential military research, was founded in 1971, and worked with western business and research organizations during the 1980s, until it was identified by US and French intelligence services with its numerous branches in the cities of Damascus and Aleppo. In the past decade, the SSRC has been headed by Dr. Amr Armanazi, originally a computer engineer. Armanazi met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the first time when Assad headed the Syrian Computer Society. At the time, Armanazi worked with him as a senior official in HISAT, Syria’s highest institute for training for scientific professions, which also serves as a hotbed for research, development and assimilation of computer applications and communication systems for military institutions.
At his side are the agency’s senior officials, who also serve as shared directors in the other bodies of the national system for scientific research and education. One of them is Khaled El-Azem, who appears beside him in a photo taken during a visit to their former colleague, Imad Moustapha, Syria's ambassador to the US, who managed the high institute for training agency employees in the past.
Developing Biological and Chemical Weapons
HISAT is essentially the highest school for training agency employees in its various activities. Among other things, the institute trains electronic and mechanical engineers, software engineers, aeronautics engineers, biology and chemistry experts and more. The SSRC is directly subordinate to President Assad, and the standing of the head of the agency equals that of a senior governmental minister, due to the scope of the organizations that answer to him and its national importance. The head of the Syrian agency for scientific research also serves as one of the directors in the steering committee of the senior council for scientific research, alongside the head of the Syrian agency for atomic energy.
At the center of the photo is Imad Moustapha, Syrian ambassador to the US, with Amr Armazani, the head of the SSRC, to his right. To his left is Khaled El-Azem, a senior official in the SSRC’s chemical weapons program
The SSRC is an enormous organization that employs thousands of employees in a variety of departments that encompass all fields of technology and scientific development which have military possibilities. The departments that are of special interest are the nuclear departments, and the "Immunology Laboratory,” where Syria develops its biological weapons alongside the laboratory for environmental research. The special cooling towers that are characteristic of facilities for the production of chemical weapons can be clearly identified in the photos from Al Safir. The production process is complex and involves the disposal of very toxic substances emitted during the production of chemical weapons. The cooling towers are needed for cooling the system.
The main production site is the Al Safir site in northern Syria. It is at this site that Syria produces Sarin and VX chemical weapons. The site is also used to store the new Scud C and Scud D missiles, which can reach and hit any location in Israel's territory. All of the agency’s development and storage facilities are protected by missile batteries, including surface-to-air (SAM) missile batteries.
Theinformation about the agency was gathered in the framework of a joint investigation with Ronen Bergman titled “Assad’s Nuclear Program,” which was published in the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonoth on April 4, 2008 following the attack on the Syrian reactor.