Saturday, July 14, 2012

Syrian Crisis Unpredictability Increases Severalfold

As International Diplomatic Efforts Slowly Evaporate, Syria Mobilizes Transport of WMD Stockpile

 Following the recent alleged massacre at Tremseh by the Syrian al-Assad regime's armored units and helicopter gunships, there are reports that Syria is moving the locations of it's primarily chemical weapons stocks to parts unknown.
In a New York Times report, " Jeffrey White, a former Defense Intelligence Agency intelligence officer who now studies Syria at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said if the munitions were being deployed to firing units, that would suggest that preparations were being made for their use. If they are being concentrated at a smaller number of secure sites, that would suggest concerns about enhanching security".

The Wall Street Journal broke the story Friday, referencing "U.S. government sources" which declined to comment for the NYT inquiries.!7FA57A7E-16C3-4D88-A05B-04D5A760263F

While this is striking up the media frenzy, the fact remains that the Syrian regime is clearly losing territory to the rebel forces around Homs, and possibly other areas. They are now charged by the U.S. and others with the responsibility for the security of their stockpile, which has always been considered the largest in the Middle East.

Syrian chemicals known to be fitted with artillery shells and missilery include the blister agent (vesicant) mustard gas, and Sarin (GB) and VX nerve agents. Tabun (GA) and some form(s) of cyanide have also been reported to be in the stockpile. Their total inventory may be as high as 1,000 metric tons, and had a production capacity for nerve agents of several tons annually.
 Their original agents were fitted on SCUD delivery vehicles as unitary, and it's unconfirmed if they've been converted to binary or multiple warhead systems. There is little, if any open-source information about their biological weapons program, so this can not be considered as confirmed in unclassified literature.

Possible Delivery Systems:
      Four SSM brigades: 1 with 18 FROG-7 launchers, 1 with Scud Bs, 1 to 2  with Scud Cs, and 1 with 18 SS-21 missile launchers. The Scud launchers are thought to be between 2 and 3 dozen. 
    "several thousand aerial bombs, filled mostly with Sarin," and between 100 to 200 ballistic missile warheads loaded with Sarin. The total of surface-to-surface missiles is thought to be just under a thousand. There may be 200 SCUD B missiles alone in the inventory. Syria has an underground storage capacity for apr 1,000 SCUD-C missiles, but an inventory of apr 100. 
    New long range North Korean Scud Cs, with ranges of up to 600 kilometers and possible nerve gas warheads.
     A coastal defense brigade with 6 Styx SS-C-3 launchers, SS-N-3 Sepal and 4 SS-C-1B Shaddock cruise missile launchers. 
    May have converted some long range surface-to-air and naval cruise missiles to use chemical warheads. Unknown if their UAVs have the same capability.
    At least 18 SS-21 launchers and at least 36 SS-21 missiles with up to 120 mile range. Apr 200 SS-21 Scarab missiles in the inventory. 
    Apr 26 Scud B/C launchers and Scud B missiles with up to 400 mile range.
    Short range M-1B missiles.
    About 2 dozen Su-24 long range strike fighters.
    Apr 44 MiG-23BM Flogger F fighter ground attack aircraft.
    16 MiG-29 SMTs. 
    Su-20 fighter ground attack aircraft.
    Less than 100 Su-22 fighter ground attack aircraft.
    100 to 200 MiG-21s, but unk if still mission capable. 
    90 more MiG23s for air defense, but primitive radar not suitable for modern air-to-air combat.
    30 MigG25s.
    22 more MigG-29s for air defense. 
    6 MiG25R and 8 MiG21 H/J recon planes. 
    AS-11/12/14 air to ground missiles. 
    Multiple rocket launchers and tube artillery.
    Possible Chinese M-9/11 and M-1B missiles.
    Fateh 110 missiles, of possible Iranian origin.
    Korean No Dong (sometimes referred to as the Scud-D) missiles. 
    Self-propelled artillery include 400 122mm Type 2S1s and 50 152mm 2S3s.
    Towed artillery consists of  over 1,500 of 122mm, 130mm tubes. 
    Multiple rocket launchers include apr 200 Type 63 107mm, and nearly 200 BM-21 122mm.

 Syria may also have a high proportion of aging chemical agents it received from Egypt before the 1973 October War. Later in the 1980s Syria ramped up it's own domestic production which included the nerve agent Sarin for 500kg aerial bombs, artillery shells, and SCUD-B/C/D missile warheads.  Syria had a minimum of four mobile rocket launcher brigades, as well as hardened silos and a system of deep tunnels which were prepared with Chinese, North Korean, and Iranian assistance. Syria also has two large underground missile production facilities with one located at it's headquarters in Aleppo, and the other at Homs, and another production and training facility near Hama with underground storage for launchers and missiles (TELS) which may account for some of the movement in the area of the heaviest fighting. These two facilities may also have maintained biological weapons sections, and a third such suspected facility is located at the village of Cerin alongside medical production. There is also a third underground production facility for SCUDs near Damascus. Their combined production capacity of SCUD-Cs was previously estimated at almost 3 dozen annually.

 Syria was part of the coalition opposing Iraq's invasion of Kuwait during the first Gulf War. Even so, Richard Butler (Agence France-Presse, Apr. 15, 2003), and David Kay (Sunday Telegraph, Jan. 25, 2005) of the UN Iraq Survey Group were both of the opinion that Saddam Hussein had indeed transferred a portion of his remaining WMD to Syria.,chemical,missile,nuclear

   The fact that there were major chemical agent production facilities near Damascus, Homs, and Hama where hundreds of tons of agents were being produced annualy is bad enough. But CNN reported that U.S. government sources told them that around these production and other storage facilities  where the heaviest fighing is ongoing, the terrorist and criminal threat to both the holdings and during transport is fairly high.

 This raises the stakes even further with the Turkish border build up, the renewed transport of those military rotary wing assets underway in a reflagged Russian freighter, and how Israel perceives the immediate threat to it's own security now in this developing situation. Syria apparently has a significant first strike missile capability in it's protected underground silos.

It can not be stressed enough that there has never been a country armed with WMD that has been involved in a civil war, and this situation is not only unique, but has widespread and dangerous implications for all the sects involved in the internal fighting, as well as the surrounding countries, and indeed the entire Middle East.

 This is also a country that has had several groups of terrorists based on it's territory, notably Hezbollah and Hamas, and although Hamas may have moved it's headquarters back to Gaza, now the jihadists from Iraq and Al Qaeda are actively involved in the fighting in-country.

 While some groups may consider the technical difficulties of acquiring some stocks of WMD too costly, Al Qaeda has been wanting to utilize WMD ever since it's unsuccessful primitive attempts to use chlorine gas. Syria is adjacent to Iraq, not distant as in the other centers of the "Arab Spring", or has it's storage sites widely spread out as the mustard gas stocks were in Libya.

 Beating the drums for a war with Iran by the Republican neocons surrounding Romney is the least of our worries at the moment, and shows how short sighted and dangerous to real U.S interests their foreign policy bumbling can be.

Update July 29th, 2012 (Global

By 1997 some reports suggested that China had assisted Syria in the modernization of Scud-B missiles, with North Korea and Iran (with Chinese assistance) participating in constructing underground facilities near Aleppo and Hama for the joint production of Scud-C missiles (under North Korean technology and M-9 missiles under Chinese technology).

Syria has used the expansion of its pharmaceuticals industry as a cover for purchases relating to its chemical weapons program. Several dual-use sites are of concern, including a pharmaceuticals plant in Aleppo that as of 1991 remained unfinished since 1989, after the Syrian government had invested nearly $40 million in its construction.

Al Kibar & Reactor

Al Safir


Officials in Washington has reportedly identified a facility dedicated to the production of biological agents in Cerin, while Israeli intelligence is monitoring several additional "suspicious" sites.


During the 1980s, according to one report, plants for production of sarin, VX and mustard gas, were set up near Damascus, Hama, Homs, Aleppo and Latakia.
Latakia (Lattakia, Al ladhiqiyah) Is main sea-port of Syria on the Mediterranean. It is situated on the low-lying Ra's Ziyarah promontory that projects into the Mediterranean Sea. The Blue Beach of Latakia is the most popular beach on the Eastern Mediterranean. Cotton ginning, vegetable-oil processing, tanning, and sponge fishing are local industries. Latakia and Perique, along with light Oriental types, are grouped as condiment, or flavoring, tobaccos. Latakia probably has the richest and most pungent aroma of all natural tobaccos used in blending. Latakia gets its name from the Syrian port of Al Ladhiqiyah. As part of the Syrian government's plan to increase the export of manufactured cotton rather than raw cotton, two cotton spinning facilities were constructed in Latakia and Idlib. A third plant in Jablah to be built by the Chinese will have a production capacity of 24,000 tons. Moreover, another plant in Latakia expanded production by 12,000 tons bringing Syria's cotton yarn production to 90,000 tons per year in 1998.


Syria's fertilizer manufacturing industry is located at Homs. Two plants produce nitrogenous fertilizers, and the third produces phosphate fertilizer. A second phosphate plant was to be developed near Palmyra with phosphate feedstock delivered from the Khunaifis Mines, about 50 kilometers (km) south of Palmyra. This proposed 500,000-metric-ton-per-year (t/yr)-capacity triple superphosphate plant had undergone considerable delays; in October 1997, however, the Government announced that the triple superphosphate plant would be constructed. Syria plans to increase its phosphate output to 4 million metric tons per year (Mt/yr) by 2000 from 2.4 Mt/yr in 1997. Much of the increase was to be achieved by modernization of operations, including the introduction of new washing methods to improve quality.

Syria Revolution / Syrian Civil War - Imagery

June 2012

May 2012

April 2012

March 2012

February 2012

Syrian Naval Bases



  1. My impression is Iran and Syria have close ties with each other. They are both avowed enemies of Israel and both customers of the Russian armament industry. Iran has invested heavily in Syrian industrial development and sold weapons to Syria. This has caused a lot of friction with Turkey, a NATO member, but also a friend to Iran (although relations have chilled sharply between Turkey and both Iran and Syria).

    Russia, meanwhile, is trying to be both a friend and a critic to Syria. Comments by Russian leaders indicate disapproval of Syria's internal situation, but Russia's continued modernization of Syrian military forces speaks much more loudly. One wonders which way Russia will jump as the civil war escalates. For instance, the idea to introduce spetsnaz "advisors" might soon occur to Russians and be interpreted as military escalation to Israel and NATO. Quite an interesting little powder keg everyone's using to strike matches.

    1. Thank you for your comment, I'm glad someone is thinking about these issues. This is the only known civil war involving a nation state, especially one that has consistently supported state sponsored terrorism that has chemical weapons. Not only that, but transmational terrorists are now operating on IT'S own territory in a twist of fate.