Israeli minister says Iran using Syria facilities for weapons production

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Israel's interim PM Yair Lapid chairs cabinet meeting in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday that Iran has used more than 10 military facilities in Syria to produce advanced missiles and weapons for its proxies.

For several years, Israel has been mounting attacks on what it has described as Iranian-linked targets in Syria.

There were no immediate comments from Iran and Syria on Monday, but Damascus has declined to comment on such accusations in the past and Tehran has denied it builds production capabilities across the Middle East.

Speaking at a conference in New York, Gantz presented a map of what he said were military sites of the Centre D'Etudes et de Recherches Scientifiques (CERS), a Syrian government agency, involved in manufacturing missiles and weapons for Iran.

"Iran transformed CERS into production facilities for mid and long-range, precise missiles and weapons, provided to Hezbollah and Iranian proxies. In other words, it became yet another Iranian front – a factory for advanced, strategic weapons," Gantz said.

Strikes attributed to Israel have recently intensified on Syrian airports to disrupt Tehran's increasing use of aerial supply lines to deliver arms to allies in Syria and Lebanon, including Hezbollah, regional diplomatic and intelligence sources have told Reuters.

Israeli strikes have repeatedly targeted the Masyaf area, a zone in the western Hama district where Gantz said an underground weapons production facility threatens Israel and the region.

"Masyaf, specifically, is used to produce advanced missiles," he said.

Gantz added that Iran was also working on building missile and weapons industries in Lebanon and Yemen.

"If this trend will not be stopped, within a decade, there will be advanced Iranian industries across the region, producing weapons and spreading terror," he said.

(Reporting by Henriette Chacar; Additional reporting by Maya Gebeily and Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Alex Richardson)