Position Paper – Israel Should Completely and Thoroughly Destroy all CERS Infrastructures in Syria.

The CERS (Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center) sites in Syria have been repeatedly attacked in recent years, including during the war. According to Syrian publications, the most recent attack on a CERS facility occurred on March 31 against the Jamraya-Dumar site, situated northwest of Damascus. As a result of the strikes, stockpiled weapons were destroyed, certain projects were halted in the midst, and production ceased owing to malfunctioning machinery or injured workers. However, activity at CERS sites continue and have not been fully thwarted. Until recently, it appears that attacks on CERS sites have been limited to ad hoc countermeasures, even if some of them were substantial.

Why should Israel attack and completely and thoroughly destroy all CERS infrastructures in Syria?

CERS is a very critical asset for the Iranians, and in our understanding, is even considered a strategic asset. The Iranians worked to take control of the main infrastructure regarding the building of power in Syria’s defense industry. This is manifested in the takeover of the CERS infrastructures. The Syrian CERS currently operates under full Iranian sponsorship.

So far, strikes on CERS sites have not lessened Iranian motivation. The Iranians are acting to rapidly rebuild the damaged infrastructures and continue with their plans, even if they sometimes have to “cut corners” or compromise on the quality of production.

Two main and interrelated reasons make the CERS sites in Syria a strategic asset for the Iranians:

First, CERS serves as a “growth engine” for the development and manufacturing of modern Iranian weaponry on Syrian soil.

Second, CERS serves as a function that optimizes and shortens (“spares “) the corridor operation.

The infrastructure of the CERS Center in Syria enables the Iranians to design and produce modern Iranian conventional weapons on Syrian soil for Iranian-backed groups in Syria, particularly Hezbollah. The Iranians, primarily through the CERS Institute 4000, are focusing their efforts on designing and producing precise missiles and rockets, cruise missiles, and UAVs for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Shiite militants in Syria. The potential accuracy of short-range missiles (Grads) is very concerning because of the large number of these rockets in Hezbollah’s arsenal.

The Iranian activity at the CERS institutions sites shortens and saves the logistics of conveyance and storing weapons along the corridor from Iran, which is more susceptible to damage / disruption and thwarting. The actions taken at CERS allow for the movement of weaponry through a short route that begins on Syrian soil in the middle of the Shiite axis’ region of operations, as opposed to a longer corridor that begins on Iranian soil.

CERS is a knowledge platform that manufactures and maintains significant chemical capability not disassembled in 2013. This is a crucial capability possessed by the Syrian regime, in which the Iranians have established a foothold, with the option of spillover to Hezbollah. In our opinion, this capability, ultimately, might benefit the extreme Shiite axis led by Iran in general and Hezbollah in particular. Hezbollah’s deployment of chemical weapons in a major escalation with Israel cannot be ruled out.

According to our estimation, this is the opportune time for Israel to attack and destroy 18 CERS locations across Syria. From a military and operational standpoint, such an attack would be extremely detrimental to Iran’s strategic objectives, as well as the operation of the Iranian corridor and the development and manufacturing of weaponry provided to Shiite militias and Hezbollah.

An all-out attack on CERS infrastructures in Syria would constitute a clear statement regarding Israel’s continued activity against Iranian entrenchment in Syria and an unequivocal message regarding Israel’s intentions for the day after the direct confrontation with the Iranians.

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Tal Beeri

Tal Beeri

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