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Role of Hezbollah, Iran in Ghouta Chemical Attack: Yellow Box

(Zaman Al Wasl)- The third part of Yellow Box documentay about the Syrian Chemcial weapons has fouced on the deadly checmical attack on Eastsern Ghouta on August 21, 2013 that left more than 1466 people killed and how the Lebanese Hezbollah militia took part in the massacre. 

The data-rich documentary highlights the Chemical programme since its birth by the Soviet Union and how the Israelis were following up the developing process through its spies.

It is based on studies prepared by group of researchers in the Syrian Center for Scientific Study and Research which explain the establishment of the chemical weapons programme and its development.

The documentary also charts the history of the program since has been established, the weapons used during the Syrian revolution to reach the handover agreement and the supposed dismantling of the deadly arsenal.

Yellow Box III

The Israelis were concerned with the fate of Syria’s chemical weapons since the early days of the Syrian revolution due to rapid advances of opposition groups.

A plan was laid by three neighboring countries Jordan, Turkey and Israel in coordination with the American and Russian forces. 

The plan dictated a direct limited intervention through a commandos operation, to secure those locations in the event the regime collapsed completely. 

But the Israelis and the Americans were thinking further ahead than that. So when the suggestion was made, after the chemical attack on the Ghouta, for the chemical weapons to be handed over in return for maintaining the head of the regime, the suggestion was accepted immediately since it was originally an Israeli idea.

-Using and Handing Over the Chemical Weapons- 

On December 6, 2012, the regime apparatuses by directed by the Air Force Intelligence broadcasted a fabricated video claiming that the armed opposition obtained the technique for manufacturing and using chemical weapons from a Turkish company. In the video, a person appears in a room filled with different bottles full of chemical materials which have the company’s label on them. The person did a live test on some rabbits which died seconds after inhaling the gas. It appears that the video was filmed in the al-Rowad (Pioneers) for scientific projects and it is the sole agent for the Turkish Takkem company with its headquarters in al-Qabun, Borj Hamshou. 

 The Air Force Intelligence broadcasted a copy of a weak video, in terms of filming, producing and performance, of supposed dissents from the Center for Studies and Scientific Research. In the video, the speaker, whose name is Obay Marouf says he is the official spokesperson for Colonel Ali Tarin… (unclear) Tamer Qaylouh. He appeared with a slogan written behind him reading “We sold you, like you sold us” in a reference to the Syrian regime’s sect. This is supposedly due to the regime smuggling chemical materials to a side he did not name. The video clearly shows one of the regime laboratories. As part of the weakness of the performance, the speaker sends his regards to his fellow Syrians in the regime areas. 
On the date of May 14, 2013, less than one month after filming the first vide, a second video was released as Obay Marouf promised. In the video, another person also appeared in the video, who identified himself as Yussef Issa from the Center for Study and Scientific Research.

He directed a message to his family, and then the video showed chemical materials which he claimed were smuggled out of the Center. 

The regime forces used chemical weapons several times in attacks of limited effect which were documented by human rights and media institutions which may have been part of a plan to reach the famous chemical weapons deal. A report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights, issued in July 2013, mentioned that the Syrian regime launched 26 attacks targeting 5 provinces using chemical weapons and poisonous gases. The attacks killed 380 people and injured 790 others. Of the places targeted: al-Bayada neighborhood and Deir Balba in Homs; Khan al-Asal al-Sheikh Maksoud in Aleppo; al-Atayba Adra in Damascus Suburbs; and Saraqib in Idlib. 


-Ghout Attack-

 In August 2013, the regime bombed the Eastern Ghouta with nerve gas when it launched 16 missiles. These missiles targeted the areas of the Eastern Ghouta. One hour after, missiles were launched on the eastern part of Zamalka city in Damascus. At exactly 2:40 AM, the bombing targeting the village of Ayn Tarma with missiles that hit the area of al-Zeyniya. After two minutes, 18 missiles were launched on the Eastern Ghouta areas in Damascus. One missile fell between Zamalka and Arbin. 

Missiles continued to be launched until 5:21 AM. Two missiles targeted the city of al-Moadamiya in a crime categorized as the crime of the century. 

After the arrival of the international observers from the United Nations (UN) three days later, the number of victims had risen to 1466 people. 

The UN inspectors tasked with overseeing the dismantling of the Syrian chemical weapons, started their work on Thursday, October 03, 2013. They ensured the safety of the locations they were to work in implementing the international Security Council decision number 2118 concerning gathering the Syrian chemical weapons ahead of getting rid of it. 

Perhaps the presentation of the previous dates shows that the media whirlwind about the chemical weapons and its limited usage were nothing more than preliminary acts to reach the main crime that would be the regime’s salvation and his means to remain in power. The speed in which the Syrian file on the location of chemical weapons was prepared, is additional evidence of a prior planning for the regime to reach the deal and remain in power. This agreement removed Israel’s fears of the destructive weapons falling into the wrong hands based on Israel’s strategic perspective. Perhaps that plan received the blessing of the regime’s enemies before its friends. 

-OPCW Report-

According to the report of the UN-organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Assad regime had used Sarin nerve gas in Ghouta attack. The report says that only two types of ammunition was used. The first is BM-14 missiles. The second a locally manufactured missile of caliber 330. 

These two types of weapons are not available to the Syrian armed forces currently. It was coordinated for the weapons to go out of active service in the 1980s. The regime denied that the BM-14 missile weapon was an agent in the armed Syrian forces. However, what the regime and the Russians hid was the fate of the old weapons, where they were placed after going out of service, and what happened to the tons of diverse ammunition used with this weapon. 

On Septemebr 27, the Security Council unanimously adoptied resolution 2118 (2013) in a fast-breaking evening meeting, the Council determined that the use of chemical weapons anywhere constituted a threat to international peace and security, and called for the full implementation of the 27 September decision of the OPCW which contains special procedures for the expeditious and verifiable destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.

The regime handed over most of this, former Soviet imported, weaponry and ammunition to the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. The weapons and ammunition were stored in Warehouse 550, the warehouse for storing coordinated and reserve weapons, in Masyaf. The weapons were not included in the warehouse inventory based on a memorandum signed off on the decision of the Deputy Commanding General and the Minister of Defense Lieutenant General Mustafa Tlass. After Hezbollah received missile launchers, they attached some of them to trucks and hid the reminder in secret underground fortified bunkers. The side most ware of this is Israel. 

Studies indicate that Iran possesses the second type of weapon and ammunition that was used in the chemical attack. While it is an active participant in the conflict on the ground alongside the regime, no questions were directed to it. 

It is beneficial to look at the attack using prohibited weapons on Khan Sheikhoun. On the morning of April 04, 2017, Khan Sheikhoun was bombed using chemical weapons. Four undirected missiles were launched by a Su-22 warplane which took off from al-Shayrat military airbase. The aircraft’s symbol is Quds-1, and it was flown by Brigadier General Mohammad Yusef al-Hasouri. Three of the missiles were explosive and one was loaded with Sarin gas.  

Studies indicate the presence of the Syrian version of Sarin which differs in its composition from Sarin produced in any other country due to the Syrian regime using some cheap materials in producing one of the primary roots needed to manufacture the gas. After taking some samples from the Ghouta and from Khan Shaykhun, French experts concluded that the primary scientific composition for the materials used in both cases have the mark of the Syrian Sarin. The issue embarrassed many organizations and countries that claim they are trying to reach the truth. 

Zaman al-Wasl obtained voice recordings for an officer in al-Shayrat airbase. Listen… Recordings captured for al-Assad’s officer about the Tomahawk and the targets hit during the American hit on al-Shayrat airbase

 The study that we obtained suggests that the regime hid some of its chemical weapons and did not hand them over. We depend on several pieces of evidence, as the study on this issue indicates that the regime smuggled the chemical materials before submitting its report the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, so before September 19, 2013. The material that was smuggled is the material the regime obtained after 2010, so after the execution of the Israeli spy, because the Israelis had detailed knowledge about the regime’s stores from before 2010. 

The study raises big questions about Hezbollah’s involvement in the chemical attack as well the attempts of the U.S., Russia and Israel to protect the war criminal who has killed about 1 million people and has destroyed two thirds of Syria, the cradle of civilization.

Yellow box II

The second part of ‘Yellow Box’ documentary, Zaman Al Wasl reveals the production and storage locations, and the types of chemical gases produced which is under the supervision of the Air Force intelligence and the Republican Palace.

Production and Storage of Chemical Weapons

According to a report delivered by the Syrian regime to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on September 13, 2013, the regime possesses 12 stable units to produce and store chemical weapons distributed throughout Syria, two mobile filling units and three institutions of a civilian nature. 

Institute 6000- Branch 450 

Institute 6000 owns the most advanced laboratories and technical equipment that enable it to produce most of the primary materials that enter into the production of chemical precursors and activators. Strangely, the United Nations Committee did not engage in any operation to destroy or dismantle the Institute’s laboratories or equipment based on the excuse that their uses are circular.  

Unit 416 

Unit 416 is located south of the town of al-Safira, and it is considered one of the most important sites for Branch 450 and one of the most important factories for the production and development of chemical weapons in Syria. The Unit develops Mustard and Sarin Gas, and it is administratively subordinate to Brigadier General Samir Daaboul, responsible for the central and northern area. After emptying it and the warehouses subordinate to it of the material and handing these over to the United Nations Committee and destroying the other part of the material, the UN Committee detonated the main production site in the Unit to ensure that it will not return to operation. 

 Unit 417

2:24 Unit 417 is located in the Abu Ash Shamat area ( 43 miles east of Damascus). It is overseen by Brigadier General Ali Wannoos. Inside the Unit, there are hundreds of tons of chemical activators and precursors that enter into preparing Sarin, Tabun and Mustard Gas. A secret warehouse subordinate to the Unit takes the form of a massive underground tunnel located in the Jarwa Well area.

Unit 418 

Unit 418 is located 3 miles east of the town of al-Farjlus. It resembles Unit 417 in its architectural, administrative and technical planning as the two were established at the same time under the supervision of Russian experts. Unit 418 is also considered one of the most important warehouses for the storage of materials used to produce Sarin, Tabun and Mustard Gas. 

Brigadier General Samir Daaboul oversees the Unit and his office is located close to the Revolutionary Air Force Intelligence roundabout in Homs. 

Ali Center 

Ali Center is located northeastern the desert town of Dumayr, 30 miles east of Damascus, the site is a fortified and camouflaged area. A dirt barricade was constructed south of the Center to hide it from view on the Damascus-Palmyra road. 

Al-Nasiriya Khan Jenjil Center 

The al-Nasiriya Center is one of the production locations established in the southern region. It is located on the al-Nasiriya - al-Qaryatayn road north of the General Road on the lower part of the northern slope of the al-Maksar Mountain. The UN envoy destroyed the main production site in the Center to ensure it would not return to operation again. 

Zouboaa and al-Mansoureh Center in Nabk

The Zoubaa location is considered one of the oldest chemical production sites in Syria and one of the largest. The site was established with the foundation of the program and its settlement. The Center was built in the form of large tunnels dug into the al-Nasiriya Mountains and work continued on the site for several years. However, the Syrian regime did not account for the injuries that started to appear on the crews working on the site due to the site’s location inside the mountains. 

Some of the injuries took the form of chronic respiratory problems which necessitated the site overseers to change the crews working on the site every six months. This issue also forced the project overseers to halt operations in the site on several occasions. 

The al-Masoureh site is located close to the former Zoubaa site and administratively subordinate to it. The site is distinguished by its proximity to the strategic hiding place of Scud missiles in the al-Nasiriya Mountains which makes it possible to prepare and equip the chemical warheads for these missiles in ready, equipped and fortified tunnels. 

-Khan Unaybah Production Center- 

Khan Unaybah site is considered the most important and dangerous chemical site in Syria due to its strategic geographical location as it is surrounded by three high, and almost deserted, mountain ranges extending between the al-Narsiriya and al-Qaryatayn Mountains. The site is surrounded by mountain ranges on its four sides. The site is far from any civilian activity where its only connection is to the Syrian Badiya. It is the site for the development and storage of the activators used to produce dangerous nerve gases including the BX gas. 

Jousiyah Unit (known as the Central)

The Central Unit is located west of the village Hasya in a mountainous region close to the town of Jousiyah. The Unit is secured by a branch of the Air Force Intelligence in Homs.

The Maliki Center is located south of the town of Adra. The Husun al-Bahar location in Tartus. The Latakia location close to the industrial city which is responsible for producing some of the aiding precursors related to Sarin gas. The Baniyas Refinery produces some of the roots that aid the production of chemical activators. The Homs Refinery also produces some of the roots that aid the production of chemical activators. The Phosphate Factory in Homs produces some of the essential roots used in the production of nerve related gases. 

Chemical activators need carriers or ammunition to reach enemy locations. These are launched on specific locations for them to explode and disperse the toxic substance achieving the required effect. There are many kinds of chemical warheads that carry these chemicals around the world. The warheads available to the Syrian regime can be limited to the following: 65 Scud missiles of the type Scud-B which can be loaded with Sarine gas. BM-21 Grad missiles which can be loaded with Sarine and Tabun gas and have been used to fire Mustard gas. These missiles leave patches of black residue in the launchers they were fired from, and these warheads are locally manufactured at present. BM-14 missiles which are some of the oldest ammunition found in Syria. These missiles were imported from the Soviet Union. The 130-millimeter artillery shells and 120-millimeter mortar rockets can be loaded with Mustard, Sarin, Chlorine or Tabun gas.

107-millimeter artillery shells were Korean produced originally but are presently produced in Syria.

Airplane rockets which are rockets that work by free fall. These can be transformed with any of the chemical agents including the VX agent into chemical warheads. Airplane rockets filled with Chlorine were imported from China and they were produced by the famous Chinese Conico company.

Suicide drone planes of the kind RAMI-2, have a small storage space which can be loaded with chemical substances. The drones were equipped with pouches, called beneficial pouches, which were previously manufactured by the Center for Studies and Research in Aleppo. Recently, the regime has engaged in producing short-range missiles such as the Fil missile which can be filled with Sarine, Mustard and Chlorine gas. 

The most important warehouses to store different ammunition of the most important warehouses to store ammunition is Warehouse 572 subordinate to the Missile Administration and located north of the town of al-Dumayr.

 The warehouse contains a specialized loading unit for Scud missiles in addition to several missiles that can be adapted to carry non-traditional warheads. The importance of the warehouse comes from its location close to the Ali Center, Unit 417 and Zoubaa Site.

Al-Sawanet Warehouse is a specialized site for launching Scud missiles with a warhead storage warehouse and a chemical storage unit close by. This is considered one of the locations fortified against airstrikes and large missile attacks because of its high fortification and its rocky nature. 

The armament Warehouse in al-Rahbet 639 in the town of al-Khatab is big enough to house 350 tons of diverse kinds of ammunition. 

Al-Thanaya Armament Warehouse is located close to the Homs-Damascus motorway before the town of al-Qatayfa. The locals know the site as al-Thanaya. Artillery shells and artillery missiles of the type 122-millimeter are stored here.

Armament warehouse 553 in Latakia close to the town of al-Shamiya, and it is one of the largest warehouses in the Syrian coastal region. The larger part of the warehouse stores normal ammunition. In addition to having loading equipment. 

Om Twaiqiya warehouses subordinate to the air force in Hama. Palmyra warehouse which is located north of the city of Palmyra. Al-Mazzeh Military Airport, is the site for a squadron of drone planes Rami-2, formed of 14 planes. The planes are called suicide planes and they are capable of carrying chemical weapons. These planes are identical to the Iranian RAED-1. The planes are overseen by the Colonel Mohammad Bilal, the brother of Brigadier Ghassan Bilal the office manager for Major General Maher al-Assad. 

Yellow Box I

-Secret Depots-

An official document obtained by Zaman al-Wasl reveals that the Syrian regime had transferred most of chemical weapons stockpiles in 2013 to secret depots held by Maher al-Assad, de-facto military commander of Syria after the deadly Sarin gas attack on Eastern Ghouta suburbs.

Moving most of the chemical arsenal from the Institute 1000 in Jamraya to 105th Brigade near the Presidential Palace in Damascus was on September 19, 2013 at the same day the regime handed the UN Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) a list of chemical sites in the war-torn country, following the Eastern Ghouta Chemical attack on August 21, 2013 when more than 1460 died in the nerve gas attack, two weeks before the arrival of the United Nations inspectors on October 3.  

At the time, the horrific images from the immediate aftermath of the attack drew global outrage.

Zaman A Wasl
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