August 30, 2013
Abu Omar, 28, is an engineer and spokesman for the Local Coordination Committee in Qutayfah who describes himself as a moderate Islamist. He tells Syria direct that Brigade 155 is not only the Syrian army’s main launching pad for Scud missiles but also that it contains “a reserve of Syria’s chemical arsenal.” We first published this interview in early April, but believe it worth revisiting.
Q: Why does government always use Brigade 155 to launch Scuds? What is its importance?
A: It’s a major military unit that includes large Scud storages and launchers. The Iranians have worked on developing this location, which is considered one of the most important in Syria. It’s in southern Qalamoon. The town of Qutayfah lies in the east and Hafir in the north. Damascus-Homs highway is in the south and southeast.
The brigade stretches for over 10 kilometers and contains a network of roads and tunnels used to connect the warehouses in the mountains. It’s led by Brigadier General Ghassan Ahmad Ghanem.
The site contains several missile battalions and Air Defense Battalion 580. It has a reserve of Syria’s chemical arsenal.
It’s one of the brigades developed by Russian and Iranians experts and the regime spent huge amounts of money to develop the site. It contains large numbers of short-range and medium-range Scud missiles capable of carrying chemical heads. Most of the missiles are developed by the Iranians and the Fateh 1 is one of them.
The regime began using Scuds on January 1, 2013. The regime used these missiles after the rebels and the FSA advanced in Aleppo and Idlib and captured Taftanaz and al-Jarrah air force bases, the police academy and Brigade 80.
Q: Does the government have alternatives in case this brigade is targeted by airstrikes?
A: They have the bases at Kiswah and A-Dumayr and Ar-Ruhaybah storage site but these contain a limited number of Scud missiles.
Q: Are there Russian experts working on launching the Scud missiles with Syrian officers?
A: The site was developed by Russia and Iran but we don’t know if they’re still there.
Q: How was the regime able to train the soldiers in this brigade to kill their fellow Syrians?
A: They have brainwashed them for 50 years and convinced them they’re fighting terrorists and mercenaries.
Q: What is Scud range and what are the perfect conditions to launch it?
A: According to a defected officer, Scuds’ range is between 300 and 700 kilometers. The brigade contains warehouses underground and in the mountains where hundreds of Scuds are stored. They have fixed and mobile launchers.
Q: How is it possible to cripple the regime’s use of this kind of missiles?
A: By striking the warehouses and the launchers.