A huge explosion in a Syrian weapons complex has spared the nation's missile and weapons of mass destruction production
Western intelligence sources said a blast in late March destroyed a major factory
and damaged several other buildings in a military industrial complex south of Homs
was believed to have left the strategic weapons production line unaffected.
They said the assessment is that a conventional weapons factory was
destroyed, Middle East Newsline reported.
"We are talking about a huge complex that covers many miles," a U.S.
intelligence analyst said. "The building that we saw destroyed did not turn
out to be in the area where we assess is the production of ballistic
missiles or WMD."
The sources said U.S. satellite photographs recorded after the blast
showed one building destroyed and several others damaged. They said the
United States remains uncertain of what that building had contained, but
intelligence agencies have concluded that it was not a missile or a WMD
The explosion was reported to have taken place on March 24 or March 25
in the northern Syrian city of Homs. Western diplomatic sources said a
factory in a huge Syrian weapons complex exploded, killing many of the
technicians in the building and causing widespread damage. The sources said
35 people were believed to have been killed.
The sources said they did not know the cause of the blast. The Homs
complex produces Scud C and D missiles as well as nonconventional weapons.
Homs, with a population of about 500,000 people, is located 160
kilometers north of Damascus. The city has an oil refinery and is a major
U.S. intelligence sources said Syria maintains a missile test site 15
kilometers south of Homs. They said Syria has tested missiles such as the
Scud C and Scud D as well as chemical warheads.
Syria also constructed missile factories in nearby Hama, about 110
kilometers north of Damascus. One factory is meant to produce solid-fuel
missiles and the other is for liquid-fuel missiles. The solid-fuel missile
is being developed with the help of Iran.
The Homs explosion was the latest in a series of accidents connected to
Syria's weapons programs. In 1991, the Syrian Health Ministry closed down
five pharmaceuticals plants, including one in Homs, during what Western
intelligence agencies determined were tests of chemical weapons.