A satellite image of al-Safir, Syria's main chemical weapons facility, near Aleppo.
A satellite image of al-Safir, Syria's main chemical weapons facility, near Aleppo. Photo by GlobalSecurity.org
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Syria tested delivery systems for chemical weapons at the end of August, according to the German weekly Der Spiegel.

The report, which quotes various witnesses, said that the tests took place near a chemical weapons research center at al-Safir, east of Aleppo, and were carried out with the aid of Iranian officers who were flown in for the testing.

According to the report, five or six empty shells capable of delivering poison gas were fired by tanks and aircraft at the site of Diraiham in the desert, near the village of Khanasir.

The report said that scientists from Iran and North Korea are said to work in the al-Safir research center, which is Syria's largest testing site for chemical weapons.

Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that the Syrian government has storied its chemical weapons and materials in some twenty sites around the country.

The report cited unnamed American and Middle Eastern officials, who also said there could be additional sites of which they were unaware.

The officials said their governments believe Syria has several tons of chemical weapons and materials, including weapons-ready sarin gas, and that the most dangerous elements of the arsenal are stored in bunkers.

The officials also said that U.S. intelligence agencies are monitoring the facilities, and have plans to secure them in the event that the situation in the country spins further out of control.

They added that the country's chemical weapons arsenal was developed for use against Israel in a war, with the help of North Korea and Russia.