The southwestern town of Zabadani, 30 km west of Damascus, is a ghost town, depopulated by five years of Syrian war ravages, except for one sign of life – or rather death. Since December, Hizballah has enclosed this once attractive tourist resort, strategically located on the Damascus-Beirut highway, into a heavily fortified ex territoria enclave whose high walls conceal the terrorist group’s new program for the development of weapons of mass destruction. This is disclosed for the first time by DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources.
Most of the facilities for the research and development of chemical weapons and dirty bombs are sunk below the surface of the secret 2.5 sq. km site.
Syrian and Iranian engineers and technicians are developing the chemical weapons for Hizballah’s arsenal, and foreign experts were hired from outside the Middle East to help build radioactive weapons. They are kept out of sight in on-site accommodation at Zabadani.
A telltale sign that the Shiite terrorist organization was actively pursuing a radioactive bomb program – and which prompted our investigation – was dropped in a speech given by Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Feb. 16.
He boasted that a pair of Hizballah rockets falling on the Israeli city of Haifa would cause a catastrophe equivalent to a “nuclear bomb” attack. He elaborated on this: “An Israeli expert had said that Haifa’s residents fear a deadly attack on the ammonia storage tanks which contain more than 15,000 tons of this gas. That would lead to the deaths of tens of thousands of Israelis and affect another 800,000,” he declared.
“This would be exactly like a nuclear bomb and we can say that Lebanon today has a nuclear bomb, seeing as any rocket that might hit these tanks is capable of creating a nuclear bomb effect,” Nasrallah said.
When someone like the Hizballah terrorist chief drops four references to a nuclear bomb in as many sentences, ending with the boast that “Lebanon today has nuclear bomb,” it must be presumed that he is crowing over some sort of nuclear device in hand.
It may not be an actual atom bomb – which would call for multimillion dollar investment, expertise and time, “only” a “dirty bomb” (essentially a conventional bomb mixed with radioactive material). That too could cause massive damage to Haifa’s chemical industry, resulting in a high death toll, runaway panic and major disruption – the perfect weapon for terrorists.
Israeli officials decline to discuss Hizballah’s new WMD program, but it certainly raises hard questions for Moscow and the commanding Russian military presence in Syria. It is hard to believe that the Shiite terrorists can develop game-changing poison chemicals and dirty bombs in the heart of Syria, without Russian intelligence noticing what was going on. Does that mean that Vladimir Putin is amenable to his air force providing it with cover?