New satellite images appear to indicate that Iran is building a new surface-to-surface missile factory in Syria, raising fresh concerns in Israel over the extent of the two countries’ military cooperation across from Israel’s northern border, Channel 10 News reported on Thursday.
The images, taken by ImageSat International, feature evidence of construction outside Wadi Jahannam, in northwest Syria. According to the report, the Syrian facility bears a striking resemblance to Iran’s Parchin military complex, southeast of Tehran.
Parchin is believed to house facilities serving Tehran’s ballistic-missile and nuclear programs.
ImageSat International said an analysis of the images suggested that the work on the Wadi Jahannam facility will be completed in the next few months.
In the recent past, Israel has mounted several airstrikes against Iranian assets in Syria in an effort to stave off Iran’s attempts to entrench itself militarily in war-torn Syria.
Iran, together with Russia, has been instrumental in propping up the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad during a seven-year civil war in Syria.
According to Channel 10 News, Israel has so far avoided bombing the Wadi Jahannam because of its proximity to a S-400 missile-defense battery. The Russian-made missile-defense system is considered one of the most advanced of its kind in the world.
Meanwhile, U.N. special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has offered to travel to the northern province of Idlib, the country’s last rebel stronghold, in an attempt to negotiate a ceasefire after Assad publicly vowed to “wipe out terrorists” in Idlib.
De Mistura called for all sides to allow time for the establishment of humanitarian corridors amid signs that the Syrian army is preparing to mount a major assault on Idlib.
The envoy hopes to prevent a military onslaught that could lead to death and destruction on the scale that saw thousands killed last year in Aleppo.
Also on Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman visited communities adjacent to Israel’s northern borders with Syria and Lebanon.
On his tour, he noted that Israel was not obligated by any agreements other countries may sign with respect to Syria’s future, saying, “With all due respect to any deals and understandings, we are not bound by them. The only thing that we are obligated to is maintaining Israel’s security interests.”
“We will spare no effort to uphold existing agreements,” added Lieberman, most likely referring to the 1974 ceasefire agreement between Israel and Syria.