Iranian Sites Cordoned off in Syria’s Hama after Israeli Raids
Iranian militias and Syrian regime security forces have cordoned off military sites used by the militias in western Hama and central Syria after they were targeted by Israeli raids on Thursday.
The sites are the military camps of Sheikh Ghadban, al-Rasafa and Scientific Studies and Research Center near the Masyaf region. Masyaf is almost half way between the coastal city of Tartus and the central city of Hama.
Iranian Revolutionary Guards members are working on removing the rubble, industrial equipment and weapons from the area.
Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based opposition war monitor known as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the Israelis struck several positions but the main target hit was a giant arms depot housing about 1,000 precision-guided middle-range missiles.
He said the explosions at the facility lasted for more than five hours after the strike.
Abdurrahman added that an underground facility to develop missiles in the area under the supervision of the Revolutionary Guard was not affected by the strikes, probably because it was dug deep in the mountains.
He said the strike left one Syrian army captain dead and 14 other Syrians wounded.
“The explosions were among the largest since Israel began carrying out airstrikes in Syria,” he said.
A source, who called himself Mohsen Dayoub, refusing to disclose his real name, said the Israeli raids struck the three most important Iranian locations near Masyaf.
A Masyaf native, Dayoub told Asharq Al-Awsat that as soon as the fires were put out in the area, the Revolutionary Guards cordoned off the area with the cooperation of local security forces.
Vehicles and military equipment were removed from the area and taken to unknown locations.
The targeted areas are being rebuilt and re-secured against future Israeli raids.
A defected Syrian officer said the Scientific Studies and Research Center had become one the regime’s most important research centers since the eruption of the popular protests in 2011.
Militias have since set up base there and used it as a command center for their operations in the western Hama countryside.
The Revolutionary Guards later took control of it and developed its infrastructure, transforming it into a factory to manufacture rockets smuggled from Iran.
Moreover, the facility boasts large depots of weapons that are used by the Lebanese Hezbollah or Iranian militias in their attacks on Syrian cities, revealed the officer.
He said the fact that the explosions kept on rocking the facility for 24 hours after the Israeli raid shows just how much Iranian weapons were stored there.
The tight security cordon after the blasts also shows that the Iranians don’t want anyone to access the site, including regime members, he added.
Meanwhile, Iranian militias have evacuated a number of their military positions in eastern Aleppo, moving military gear and weapons to unknown locations, in anticipation of possible Israeli and American attacks.
Opposition sources revealed that in recent hours, three Iranian locations near the al-Safira region were evacuated towards southern Aleppo.
Iranian, Afghan and Iraqi militias have also sought to camouflage their military locations in the Hama and Homs deserts to avoid detection from American surveillance aircraft that have recently expanded their flights in the area, raising tensions with Tehran.