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New satellite images claim to show Assad is building an Iranian-style missile factory

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New satellite images claim to show a new Iranian-style long-range missile factory being built in Syria, according to an Israeli geospatial imagery company.

The images purportedly show a long-range missile facility under construction near Baniyas, Syria, near the country's west coast. They were taken by the Eros B satellite, which is operated by ImageSat International. ISI's analysis noted the alleged missile factories resemble similar Iranian missile factories near Tehran, the Iranian capital.

ISI's team identified a single entrance to the site, connected to a long, winding road leads up the complex itself. Inside the complex, analysts have identified storage areas, a production area and an administration campus. ISI also speculated another half of the site which is still under construction will be used for additional missile production buildings. One area of the facility is surrounded by a dirt embankment, which the company believes may be used for the production of ammunition for the missiles.

"According to ISI's analysis, the Syrians, with high certainty, are building missile factories which are very similar to missile factories in Iran," said the company's report. Despite the similarities, the company did not speculate as to Iran's direct involvement in the facility's construction.

"What is the Iranian involvement in the missile factories? This is a question that must be addressed to the intelligence services," noted the report.

While the images have yet to be independently verified, a July report by the Middle East Media Research Institute claimed that a Syrian opposition website discovered that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited a new missile facility in the same area sometime this year.

If accurate, the report could have major implications for the security of the Middle East. Syria has historically been a major Israeli adversary, and tensions along the Syrian-Israeli border have led to several one-off strikes by both sides in the past few months. The discovery of a new missile site in Syria could easily escalate the situation. Israel has pre-emptively struck the Syrian military in the past, most notably in 2007 when the Israeli air force destroyed a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor.

Assad is a close ally of the Iranian government, which maintains one of the largest, most diverse missile arsenals in the region. Iranian forces are known to operate on behalf of the Assad regime within Syria, so the possibility of a construction partnership on the missile factory is not out of the question.

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While it is unclear exactly what kind of missiles are being produced at the facility, long-range missiles typically have ranges which would easily allow Syria to fire missiles into Israeli territory.

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