Images show heavy damage to Syrian weapons base in airstrike attributed to Israel

Satellite images obtained by The Times of Israel on Saturday showed heavily damaged structures at a Syrian weapons base near the northwestern city of Masyaf in a Thursday airstrike attributed to Israel.

The images taken by Planet Labs PBC and provided by Aurora Intel, a network that provides news and updates based on open-source intelligence, appear to show that some buildings at the Scientific Studies and Research Center, known as CERS or SSRC, on the base were completely destroyed.

Western officials and media reports have long associated the CERS facility with the production of precision surface-to-surface missiles, including the process of casting solid rocket motors, as well as chemical weapons. According to the United States, sarin gas was developed at that center, a charge denied by the Syrian authorities.

The area around Masyaf, which is thought to be used as a base for Iranian forces and pro-Iranian militias, has been repeatedly targeted in recent years in attacks widely attributed to Israel. Buildings at CERS specifically have also been targeted numerous times.

Aurora Intel assessed that at least nine buildings were “heavily damaged” in Thursday’s attack, based on viewing satellite imagery from before the attack on Thursday, and new images Saturday.

The group said some of the buildings were apparently directly struck, while others were damaged, potentially by secondary explosions or fires. Additionally, the satellite images indicate that one of the buildings damaged in the attack appeared to have been under construction.

In these before and after satellite images taken August 25 and 27, 2022, damage is seen to the Scientific Studies and Research Center in Masyaf, Syria. (Planet Labs PBC via Aurora Intel)

According to the official Syrian news agency SANA, two civilians were hurt in the airstrike attributed to Israel at the site on Thursday evening. Other media in the country reported that one Syrian officer later died of his wounds sustained in the attack.

SANA said damage was caused to the sites that were hit, and that there were fires in the area as a result.

Syrian media reports on Saturday said firefighting aircraft had scrambled to extinguish the fires in the area, which were still burning almost two days after the attack.

A satellite image dated Saturday showed a blackened landscape around CERS from the blaze.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor with unclear funding, claimed that 1,000 Iranian-made missiles were destroyed at the site in Thursday’s strike.

The unverified claim was widely reported on Hebrew language media, despite the fact that the organization, run by a single person, has regularly been accused by Syrian war analysts of false reporting, inflating casualty numbers, as well as inventing them wholesale.

As a rule, Israel’s military does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, but has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country. It says it also attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Lebanese Hezbollah.

It’s not (only) about you.

Supporting The Times of Israel is not a transaction for an online service, like subscribing to Netflix. The ToI Community is for people like you who care about a common good: ensuring that balanced, responsible coverage of Israel continues to be available to millions across the world, for free.

Sure, we’ll remove all ads from your page and you’ll unlock access to some excellent Community-only content. But your support gives you something more profound than that: the pride of joining something that really matters.

Join the Times of Israel Community Join our Community Already a member? Sign in to stop seeing this

You’re a dedicated reader

That’s why we started the Times of Israel ten years ago – to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.

So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community.

For as little as $6 a month you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREEas well as accessing exclusive content available only to Times of Israel Community members.

thank you
David Horowitz, Founding Editor of The Times of Israel

Join Our Community Join Our Community Already a member? Sign in to stop seeing this

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.