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Syria rebels capture nuclear site

Syrian rebels have captured a former nuclear reactor site, the opposition claims.

Aleppo syria 21 7 2012Enlarge
Members of Jihadist group Hamza Abdualmuttalib train near Aleppo on July 19, 2012. (BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrian rebels have captured the site of a suspected nuclear reactor that Israeli warplanes destroyed six years ago, opposition sources told Reuters. The site gained international notoriety when Israel destroyed it in 2007. If Israel didn't destroy the reactor, designed by North Korea, it would have made weapons-grade plutonium, according to the United States. 

Of course, the Syrian military has long denied that the site was a nuclear reactor. Instead, Syria officials contend that the site was just a regular military facility. Yet the military refused to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to fully access the site. Israel's secret bombing of the site was detailed extensively in an  in-depth New Yorker story published last year. 

More from GlobalPost: Inside the Syrian conflict

Now, the Syrian opposition seems to be confirming the United States' claim that this was in fact a nuclear site. "It appears that the site was turned into a Scud launch base. Whatever structures it had have been buried," a source told Reuters. 

The opposition fighters overran the post and captured the site Saturday, the Associated Press reported. Regime troops had been in the area guarding the center until the rebels took over this weekend. “It’s more or less a shell because the Syrians decided to remove everything inside the buildings,” Mustafa Alani, an analyst with the Gulf Research Center in Geneva, told the AP. “I don’t think there’s anything left really of any value for the rebels.”

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/130224/syria-rebels-capture-nuclear-site