Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Israel suspected in killing of top Syrian regime scientist

Israel suspected in killing of top Syrian regime scientist

Aziz Asbar, a research director at Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Centre, was killed on Saturday by an explosive device targeting his vehicle in the town of Masyaf in Syria's Hama province, according to Syria's official news agency SANA.

Asbar, the research director at Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Center, was believed to be developing a secret weapons manufacturing facility with the help of Iran, which was to be used to manufacture precision-guided missiles in Syria.

The Syrian opposition blamed [Saturday's] attack on the Assad regime, claiming [Asbar] was very familiar with Syria's chemical weapons deployment and its use against civilians.

The scientific center, run by Azbar, was the target of at least two Israeli aerial assaults over the past months.

Intelligence and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz weighed in on allegations that Israeli Mossad agents killed Dr. Aziz Asbar near the northwestern Syrian city of Masyaf, commenting that "assuming that [Asbar] was indeed involved in terrorist activity, I welcome his departure from the world".

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The Mossad carried out the assassination of Aziz Esber [also spelled Asbar], considered one of Syria's most important rocket scientists, according to a report published Tuesday in the New York Times.

Even before the conflict broke out in 2011, Asbar had played a prominent role in Syria's missile program, which an unnamed official from the Syrian-Iranian alliance told The New York Times. An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment.

Under Israeli law, only the prime minister can authorize assassinations, termed "negative treatment" by Mossad.

An Israeli air strike targeted the research centre on July 22, Syrian state media reported.

Early 2017 marked the low point for Bashar Assad in his country's now seven-year-old civil war with his authority confined to just 17 percent of national territory.

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