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Aleppo Missile Factory

  • Location
    350km north of Damascus in the province of Halab
  • Type
  • Facility Status

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Constructed with Chinese, Iranian, North Korean and possibly Russian assistance, the Aleppo Missile Factory is an underground facility that produces several variants of Scud and possibly Chinese M-9 missiles. 1 Missile production reportedly began in 1993. 2 Damascus also uses the site to perform chemical warhead fitting for its ballistic missile arsenal, and may have tested a Scud-B that was tipped with a chemical warhead in 2001. 3 In July 2007, an explosion at the site reportedly occurred during an attempt to weaponize a 500km Scud-C with a mustard gas warhead. 4 The explosion killed 15 Syrian military personnel, dozens of Iranian missile engineers, and may have released VX and Sarin nerve agents into the immediate area. 5


Scud is the designation for a series of short-range ballistic missiles developed by the Soviet Union in the 1950s and transferred to many other countries. Most theater ballistic missiles developed and deployed in countries of proliferation concern, for example Iran and North Korea, are based on the Scud design.
Ballistic missile
A delivery vehicle powered by a liquid or solid fueled rocket that primarily travels in a ballistic (free-fall) trajectory.  The flight of a ballistic missile includes three phases: 1) boost phase, where the rocket generates thrust to launch the missile into flight; 2) midcourse phase, where the missile coasts in an arc under the influence of gravity; and 3) terminal phase, in which the missile descends towards its target.  Ballistic missiles can be characterized by three key parameters - range, payload, and Circular Error Probable (CEP), or targeting precision.  Ballistic missiles are primarily intended for use against ground targets.
Mustard (HD)
Mustard is a blister agent, or vesicant. The term mustard gas typically refers to sulfur mustard (HD), despite HD being neither a mustard nor a gas. Sulfur mustard gained notoriety during World War I for causing more casualties than all of the other chemical agents combined. Victims develop painful blisters on their skin, as well as lung and eye irritation leading to potential pulmonary edema and blindness. However, mustard exposure is usually not fatal. A liquid at room temperature, sulfur mustard has been delivered using artillery shells and aerial bombs. HD is closely related to the nitrogen mustards (HN-1, HN-2, HN—3).
VX: The most toxic of the V-series nerve agents, VX was developed after the discovery of VE in the United Kingdom. Like other nerve agents, VX causes uncontrollable nerve excitation and muscle excitation. Ultimately, VX victims suffer death by suffocation. VX is an oily, amber-colored, odorless liquid.
Sarin (GB)
Sarin (GB): A nerve agent, sarin causes uncontrollable nerve cell excitation and muscle contraction. Ultimately, sarin victims suffer death by suffocation. As with other nerve agents, sarin can cause death within minutes. Sarin vapor is about ten times less toxic than VX vapor, but 25 times more toxic than hydrogen cyanide. Discovered while attempting to produce more potent pesticides, sarin is the most toxic of the four G-series nerve agents developed by Germany during World War II. Germany never used sarin during the war. However, Iraq may have used sarin during the Iran-Iraq War, and Aum Shinrikyo is known to have used low-quality sarin during its attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 12 people and injured hundreds.
Nerve agent
A nerve agent is a chemical weapon that attacks the human nervous system, leading to uncontrolled nerve cell excitation and muscle contraction. Specifically, nerve agents block the enzyme cholinesterease, so acetylcholine builds up in the nerve junction and the neuron cannot return to the rest state. Nerve agents include the G-series nerve agents (soman, sarin, tabun, and GF) synthesized by Germany during and after World War II; the more toxic V-series nerve agents (VX, VE, VM, VG, VR) discovered by the United Kingdom during the 1950s; and the reportedly even more toxic Novichok agents, developed by the Soviet Union between 1960 and 1990. The development of both the G-series and V-series nerve agents occurred alongside pesticide development.


  1. Angelo M. Codevilla, “Missiles, Defense and Israel,” The Threat of Ballistic Missiles in the Middle East, ed. Arieh Stav (Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press, 2004), p.61; Anthony H. Cordesman, Arab-Israeli Military Forces in an Era of Asymmetric Wars (Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2006), p. 363.
  2. Greg W. Gerardi and James A. Plotts, “An Annotated Chronology of DPRK Missile Trade and Developments,” The Nonproliferation Review, Fall 1994, p.79.
  3. Anthony H. Cordesman, “Syrian Weapons of Mass Destruction,” 1st Working Draft, 2 June 2008, p.14, www.csis.org.
  4. Robin Hughes, “Explosion Aborts CW Project Run by Iran and Syria,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, 17 September 2007, www.janes.com.
  5. Robin Hughes, “Explosion Aborts CW Project Run by Iran and Syria,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, 17 September 2007, www.janes.com.


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