assad - AP - Octbioer 8 2010
Syrian President Bashar Assad visiting Tehran on Saturday. Photo by AP
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The Syrian army has a Scud missile base near Damascus, according to recent satellite photos. The photos also suggest that Hezbollah activists are being trained in the Scuds' use at the base.

Reports that Syria may have given Hezbollah Scuds ratcheted up tensions between Jerusalem and Damascus about six months ago, according to foreign media.

The photos, taken on March 22, can be seen by any web surfer on Google Earth. They show extensive construction at several military bases throughout Syria, including at one of the country's three largest missile bases, located 25 kilometers northeast of Damascus, near the city of Adra.

The base is in a deep valley surrounded by 400-meter-high mountains. Concrete tunnels lead from the base into the mountains, where the Scuds are apparently stored.

The photos show five 11-meter-long missiles (the length of both the Scud B and the Scud C ) at the Adra base. Three are on trucks in a parking lot. Two others are in a training area where 20 to 25 people can be made out along with about 20 vehicles. One of the two missiles appears to be mounted on a mobile launcher; another is on the ground.

In April, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai reported that Syrian President Bashar Assad was arming Hezbollah with Scuds. The paper did not mention the type of Scud, but the Scud C has a range of approximately 600 kilometers.

About a month later, Amos Harel reported in Haaretz that Damascus had given Hezbollah highly accurate and lethal M-600 rockets with a range of 300 kilometers.

In late May, the Sunday Times of London reported that shipments of weapons from the Adra base were going to Hezbollah, and that according to anonymous security sources, Iran was sending missiles and other weapons to that base via the nearby Damascus airport. It also said Hezbollah had been given a section of the base for barracks, warehouses and a fleet of trucks to transport weapons to the Lebanese border, 40 kilometers away.

Earlier that month, Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz, the head of research for Military Intelligence, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, "The long-range missiles Syria recently gave to Hezbollah are just the tip of the iceberg. Hezbollah already has thousands of rockets of all kinds and all ranges."

Due to the rising tensions at the time, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Saudi King Abdullah invited Assad to an urgent summit at Sharm al-Sheikh. Assad, however, canceled at the last minute. A senior analyst told Haaretz at the time that while Assad was presenting himself to Europe as a peace-seeker, he continued to maintain his strategic alliance with Iran and Hezbollah.