david's sling missile system
© AP Photo / Ministry of Defense
Earlier, Israeli media claimed that Iran, the Syrian government and Hezbollah were building a secret "precision missile factory" in western Syria.

Israeli satellite intelligence firm ImageSat International has released satellite images of what it says are "probably" indications of a missile production facility outside Safita, a Syrian town in southeast Tartous about 100 km from the Lebanese border.

According to the company, an analysis of "the construction patterns, the compound location and the activity" at the site signal "the probability that this is a missiles manufacturing site."

Iranian missile plant
Satellite image of alleged secret Iranian missile plant in Syria.
As evidence, the firm shows satellite images of several buildings "reminiscent [of] large industrial buildings" closed in by fencing, with two of the buildings assumed to be "production lines," while the third is said to be meant for "manufacture or assembly" of the missiles.

Citing "massive and wide trails of heavy vehicles" in the area, ImageSat suggests these were "probably created by the activity of heavy vehicles such as SSM [Surface-to-Surface Missile] launchers."

iran missile plant
Satellite image of alleged secret Iranian missile plant in Syria.
At the same time, the firm indicates that there was "probably no manufacturing [or] assembly of missile engines and warheads" going on at the plant, given lack of the necessary "protected structures."

"Also, no missiles or launchers were identified within the compound," ImageSat admitted.

The satellite operator's report follows on claims made last month by Israel's Channel 12, which indicated, citing Israeli officials, that a secret factory outside Safita intended to remain hidden from Tel Aviv was created to produce precision missiles which could be lobbed by Lebanese militant group Hazbollah at Israel.

Channel 12 accused Iran of bypassing sanctions against its missile program via a Syrian weapons research agency, and claimed that missile parts for the factory were ordered from Italy, China, and other Asian countries.

Syrian and Iranian officials and Hezbollah officials have not commented on the claims.

Tensions between Syria and Israel have been simmering since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. In recent years, Tel Aviv has repeatedly accused Iran of waging a proxy war against Israel by providing military support and hardware to the Syrian Army and Hezbollah. The Israeli Air Force has carried out over two hundred airstrikes against the Arab Republic, with the attacks ostensibly aimed at disarming the "Iranian threat." Iranian and Syrian authorities have slammed the claims, and insisted that Iran's limited Syrian presence was aimed at destroying the threat posed by Daesh (ISIS)* and other terrorist groups.