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Syria Has Underground 'Missile City'

(AFP) -- Syria has built a fortified complex buried deep underground and cloaked in secrecy to manufacture and store ballistic missiles capable of striking Israel, an Israeli newspaper said on Monday.

The complex includes 30 reinforced concrete bunkers, production facilities, development laboratories and command posts, the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot quoted "foreign experts" as saying, without specifying its location.

The "missile city" houses mainly Scud missiles capable of reaching anywhere in Israel. Given its weak air power, Damascus is boosting its arsenal of surface-to-surface missiles and protecting them in the complex, Yediot said.

According to the paper, Syria has 200 Scud-B missiles, 60 Scud-C and a certain number of North Korean Scud-D missiles with a range of 700km, and has developed chemical warheads for all its Scuds.

The chemical warfare agents are stored in a separate facility, Yediot quoted the foreign experts as saying.

It also said that Iran recently supplied Syria with about 100 Chinese shore-to-sea C-802 missiles -- the same missile that Hezbollah used to hit an Israeli warship during last year's Lebanon war.

In March, military and government sources told Agence France-Presse that Syria had positioned thousands of rockets on its border with Israel, as part of indications that Damascus may be preparing for future "low-intensity warfare".

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made peace overtures in recent months to Israel but the Jewish state rejected them, saying Damascus must first stop supporting militant groups in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

Peace talks between Israel and Syria collapsed in 2000, mainly because of deadlock over the return of the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967 and unilaterally annexed in 1981.


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