Israel 'welcomes' assassination of top Syrian weapons expert

Elias Hubbard
August 8, 2018

Aziz Asbar, a research director at Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Centre, was killed on Saturday by an explosive device targeting his auto in the town of Masyaf in Syria's Hama province, according to Syria's official news agency SANA. The attack took place on Saturday night in Masyaf, west of Hama, home to one of Syria's main weapons-development facilities, run by the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center.

The official, who works for a Middle Eastern intelligence agency, said Israel had been monitoring Asbar for years.

Asbar headed the Maysaf research center in Hama, which was hit by Israeli air strikes last month and in September a year ago, the Observatory said.

The centre has always been linked by intelligence agencies to Syria's chemical weapons program, and Israeli warplanes are suspected to have targeted the centre's facility on at least two occasions over the past year, in September and July. He was also collaborating with Iranian Maj.

"I can say that assuming the details of this man's activities are correct and he was engaged in developing chemical weapons and longer-range missiles capable of hitting Israel, I certainly welcome his demise", Katz told Israeli army radio.

Syrian press reports blamed Israel's Mossad intelligence agency for the killing and said Asbar had survived two previous assassination attempts, also by Israeli agents. Israeli officials, past and present, had refused to comment on the accusations, although Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman has sought to downplay the possibility of Israeli involvement.

Last September, Israel nearly entirely destroyed a weapons factory in Masyaf, where Asbar was a senior manager.

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

A succession of victories since then over both the Islamic State group and various rebel factions has extended government control to almost two-thirds of the country.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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