Has North Korea Built An Underground Military Base In Syria?

The United States is monitoring reports of a large underground North Korean military base in Syria which could be used for "advanced weaponry and nuclear-related work," according to the Washington Free Beacon

Regional news reports that North Korea is close to completing construction of the base near the town of Qardaha, Syria - the hometown of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Long tunnels have been built during the last seven years in a deep valley in Qardaha under the supervision of North Korean experts.

According to Zaman Al Wasl’s satellite images and a military source the underground facility has been under construction for seven years, started by the beginning if the Syrian revolution in March 2011.

A part of the base is being constructed inside a large tunnel in the mountainous area that lies on the Mediterranean Sea. Just a small part is located outside. -Zaman Al Wasl

The site can be seen here.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials told the Washington Free Beacon that they are monitoring these reports. 

"We are aware of reports regarding possible DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] assistance to Syria to rebuild its chemical weapons capabilities," a State Department official, speaking on background, told the Free Beacon. "We take these allegations very seriously and we are working assiduously to prevent the Assad regime from obtaining material and equipment to support its chemical weapons program."

"The United States has long expressed its deep concerns about both the assistance the DPRK provides to Syria's weapons programs and Syria's ongoing possession and use of chemical weapons—both activities in defiance of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions." - State Dept. Official via Free Beacon

Two weeks ago, CNN reported that North Korea has been sending chemical weapon supplies to Syria - including chemical resistant tiles, valves and thermometers, according to a UN Security Council diplomat speaking on the condition of anonymity. 

The same report also claims North Korean missile experts visited Syria in 2016 and 2017, after the chemical weapons supplies had been sent to the Middle Eastern state.

During one of the trips, the technicians stayed at Syrian military facilities. A UN member state reported to the panel of experts that scientists from North Korea may still be operating in Barzeh, Adra and Hama. -CNN

If this report isn't simply propaganda from outlets interested in complicating President Trump's upcoming denuclearization talks with North Korea, it means that potentially deadly munitions, including chemical weapons, could be dangerously close to the Mediterranean.

That said, there were also reports that Saddam Hussein hid chemical weapons in Syria after nobody could find them - rumors which were later disproven