Rebels destroy regime chemical facility in al-Safira
November 19, 2013
CHEMICAL HIT: FSA-affiliated Islamic battalions Nour al-Din al-Zenki destroyed the Ministry of Defense’s Scientific Research and Study Center in the town of al-Safira, southeast of Aleppo, on Monday using locally manufactured “Hell” mortars. The heavily guarded facility reportedly contains “a chemical weapons storage unit and factory for producing chemical material,” an opposition spokesman from al-Safira told Syria Direct.
Under rebel control for more than a year, government troops recaptured the town of al-Safira on October 31 as the regime advanced toward Aleppo via its alternate road from Hama. Located on a mountain adjacent to al-Safira, the Scientific Research and Study Center fended off a rebel siege throughout rebel control of the town.
Last month, a journalist for pro-opposition Aleppo News Network reported that the Center fired a large number of engineers and confiscated their homes in Aleppo. The ANN reported that 28 engineers were also arrested during the distribution of their salaries.
The Research and Study Center plays a major role in the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons production. Many Syrian scientists work inside the facility, though exact information about its operations remains unknown. Employees are strictly monitored to prevent leaks of information.
On October 12th, pro-regime news website Syria Steps reported that Israeli intelligence had helped opposition extremist group Jabhat a-Nusra and FSA-affiliated Ahrar al-Sham break into the facility. Regime officials regained control of the facility on the same day.