Satellite images reveal unscathed SSRC facility in Syria
Today, Israel's Channel 2 broadcast satellite images of the Scientific Studies and Research Center (Centre D'Etudes et de Recherches Scientifiques) in Jamraya. The images, which were reportedly taken by DigitalGlobe, showed that the complex was unscathed despite claims by the Syrian regime that it was the target of an Israeli raid last week. A TIME report had also suggested that the facility had been "flattened."
If the images, taken four days after the alleged bombing, are genuine, they all but confirm the belief among US officials that Israel's primary target in last week's raid was a convoy of antiaircraft weapons and not the SSRC facility. The images would also likely confirm the belief among US officials that the purported damage seen to the SSRC facility in the video released by Syrian state television on Feb. 2 was most likely the result of "secondary explosions from munitions in the convoy."
On Feb. 2, Threat Matrix noted that the footage purporting to show the damage caused by Israel's airstrikes showed "extremely limited" damage to the SSRC facility.
While the images may debunk the Syrian regime's claims as to what was struck, they do appear to support the belief that the antiaircraft missiles that were struck were located very close to the SSRC facility in Jamraya. In the images broadcast today a burnt road is clearly visible near the facility, possibly indicating the location of the Syrian weapons convoy when it was hit.
According to the US Department of the Treasury, the SSRC is the Syrian government's body "responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons and the missiles to deliver them." In addition, the activities of the SSRC are said to "focus substantively on the development of biological and chemical weapons." In September 2010, Brigadier General (Res.) Nitzan Nuriel, then the director of the Counter-Terrorism Bureau at Israel's National Security Council, said that "[t]he international community must send a signal that next time the institute [SSRC] supports terrorism, it will be demolished."
While Israel has not taken official responsibility for the strikes, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told a conference in Munich on Feb. 3 that "I cannot add anything to what you have read in the newspapers about what happened in Syria several days ago .... But I keep telling frankly that we said, and that is another proof that when we say something we mean it."
On the same day, Syria's Bashar al Assad thanked Iran for its recent pledge of support and said that "Syria is capable of confronting current challenges and repelling any aggression targeting the Syrian people."