Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Study says Syria is developing chemical weapon capability

WASHINGTON, Feb 18 (KUNA) -- An intelligence review released on Wednesday says that Syria is developing chemical weapons capability northwest of the country.
"Construction at the Al Safir facility appears to be the most significant chemical weapons production, storage and weaponisation site in Syria. Its presence indicates Syria's desire to develop unconventional weapons either to act as a deterrent to conflict with Israel or as a force enhancer should any conflict ensue", said editor of Janes Intelligence Review Christian Le Miere.
Janes Intelligence Review used satellite images from commercial sources gathered between 2005 and 2008 to examine activity at the chemical weapons facility identified as Al Safir in northwest Syria.
Jane Review says it observed in the imagery "significant levels of construction have taken place at the facilitys production plant and adjacent missile base", noting that the site is not "a civilian industrial complex".
"The facility is accessed only through a military checkpoint and each element within the facility has an additional security point", said the study.
"This does not suggest that Syria is arming itself for an offensive, but it could have regional security implications given Syria's tension with its neighbor, Israel", it added.
Le Miere noted that "further expansion of Al Safir is likely to antagonize Israel and highlight mutual mistrust, even as peace talks between the two neighbors progress intermittently. Although an Israeli air strike on the facility may not yet be likely, such developments only serve to underline and exacerbate regional tensions".


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