TEL AVIV — High-resolution imagery released on Thursday confirms what Moscow-watchers and intelligence analysts have known since March of last year: the deployment of Russian nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in Syria.
Captured on Dec 28 by the Israeli-built Eros B satellite, the spy-quality images were posted Jan. 5 on the website of ImageSat International (iSi), a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the state-owned firm that builds all of Israel’s spy satellites.
In a section of the iSi website called Insights, the firm shows an image over Russia’s Hmeymin base in Latakia, Syria of what it says are two Iskander-launching vehicles, each capable of deploying two of the 500-kilometer-range surface-to-surface missiles known to NATO as SS-26.
Other images compare a shot captured in late November, which shows six different "missile elements" under camouflage nets, to one taken Dec. 28 of a nearby location, in which the two vehicles are exposed.
On the left, a shot captured in late November shows six different missile elements under camouflage nets. On the right, a shot of a nearby location captured Dec. 28 shows two vehicles exposed.Photo Credit: ImageSat International "Most probably, heavy rain and floods forced the re-deployment of those two elements to the location in which they were revealed by iSi analysts," the firm noted in its Insight report.
The firm claimed that its satellite imagery "is the first visual evidence of the system’s presence in Syria" and that its revelations were the first to reveal the system’s deployment site.
But while the latter part of iSi’s claim may, indeed, be true with regard to its imagery providing first public proof of the system’s deployment site, it was the Russian military website military-informant.com which first publicized back in March 2016 a spit-second video grab of the Iskander launch vehicles at the Hmeymim base.
Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. She has been covering U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, Mideast security and missile defense since May 1988. She lives north of Tel Aviv. Visit her website at www.opall-rome.com.
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