A new study published on Wednesday by the Alma Research and Education Center, which specializes in defense-based research on Israel’s northern border, revealed the true purpose of the CERS Syrian research institute, a military facility that was responsible for developing Syria's chemical weapons in the 1980s.
According to the report, the institute which operates under the guise of a civilian scientific research center, houses classified military facilities that serve the Syrian army, the Iranian regime, and Hezbollah and is used for the production of chemical weapons and precision missiles.
Iran took control of the CERS center, with an emphasis on its Institute 4000, making it “an inseparable part of the infrastructure of the arms corridor to Syria and Lebanon, both in terms of the production of advanced weapons and their long-term storage for future use by the Shiite axis.” Those weapons include the ground-to-ground M600 missiles, produced in cooperation with Iran, which also manufactures the matching Fateh-110 missile, as well as Scud 275 missiles, Shihab 1, Shihab 2, ODAB, Zelzal, and Fajr missiles.
The Alma Institute report claims Institue 4000 may be working on the Iranian ‘Labaik’ project, which aims to modernize outdated Iranian rockets by adding sensors and remote guidance systems, enabling full rocket control after launch.
Israel had attacked CERN facilities numerous times in the past and more frequently in recent years but after each strike, Iran quickly rebuilds and repairs the damage caused, the reports said.
The researchers said there were around 20,000 people working at CERN, mostly Syrian researchers, engineers and members of the Syrian military. The industrial complex which has facilities spread around Syria - includes research institutes, factories, production and storage sites. The CERS Center serves as Syria's military industry.
From the study’s outset, the Alma Center pointed out the connection of the Syrian institute to Tehran and its importance to the Iranian regime. “CERS is envisioned as a "growth engine" for the development and production of modern conventional weapons based on Iranian technology on Syrian soil,” the report read.
“Furthermore, the CERS Center operation shortens and saves the logistics of transferring weapons from Iran, which is more vulnerable to harm/disruption and obstruction. Iran's major focus is to develop and manufacture precision missiles and rockets, cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on Syrian soil, using the CERS Center's Institute 4000 infrastructure”
According to the study, the strong connection between Tehran and the Syrian center has existed for many years, and today "Certain projects, particularly at Institute 4000 (Sector 4), are currently under direct Iranian supervision by senior IRGC Quds Force officers." The report also cited conversations held in July 2015 with a former CERS employee who defected and revealed that CERS operations were overseen by Iran.
Researchers listed a series of Israeli attacks on sites associated or identified with the Syrian center. “The CERS Center installations function as Hezbollah production plants, guided and supervised by Iranian expertise," the report said and noted that it had knowledge and experience in the production of chemical weapons. "The Syrian leadership has fostered and developed extensive chemical capabilities to generate deterrence vis-à-vis Israel. The CERS Center was given responsibility for this in the 1980s,” the report said.
Despite Syrian claims that the regime no longer possesses chemical weapons, the Alma Center believes otherwise. “We assess that the Syrian regime now possesses extensive chemical capabilities, and considers the stockpiles of chemical weapons in its possession and the threat they pose, as a guarantee of its survival.” The study also showed a troubling possibility in which chemical weapons could fall into Hezbollah's hands at a moment's notice before being directed at Israel.
“At will, this capability may benefit the radical Shiite axis led by Iran in general and Hezbollah in particular. Hezbollah's use of chemical weapons in the next confrontation with Israel cannot be ruled out,” the study read. “It is conceivable that missiles/rockets armed with chemical weapons (such as Sarin nerve gas) are being stockpiled for use by Hezbollah in one of the CERS center's sites in the Masyaf area and will be transferred to Lebanon if so directed.”
Alma believes there is a high probability that in a future war, Israel would come under chemical attack.
“In any case, Hezbollah's tactical employment of any chemical weapons (available, simple, and rudimentary) in the next conflict with Israel cannot be ruled out. In our opinion, Hezbollah has mortar shells and missiles designed for this purpose, which can be armed and operationalized with the assistance of the CERS Center.”
First published: 18:03, 08.03.23