Mossad behind assassination of Syrian rocket scientist

Aziz Azbar

Syria on Tuesday accused Israel of assassinating a top Syrian rocket scientist over the weekend, escalating tensions between the two countries.

An Israeli government spokesman declined to comment on the allegations.

Intelligence official quoted in the New York Times today said that Israel had been tracking Azbar for years, and had wanted to assassinate him over his prominent role in Syria's weapons programme even before the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

Syrian daily newspaper al-Watan blamed Israel's espionage agency, Mossad, for the attack that killed a senior Syrian chemical weapons scientist Saturday.

The report said that Isber was working alongside Maj Gen Qassim Suleimani, the commander of Iranian Revolutionary Guards' elite al-Quds Force and enjoyed high level access to both the Syrian and Iranian governments.

'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'. Every time they try to place the blame on us. The center has been targeted in two air attacks that have been attributed to Israel, including one in April that killed several Iranians.

The Israelis believed Asbar led a secret unit called Sector 4 which aimed to develop precision-guided missiles in Syria which could threaten Israel.

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

In April, coordinated missile strikes by the United States, Britain and France destroyed a Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre facility in Damascus, in response to a suspected gas attack that killed at least 70 civilians in Douma - a town in the former rebel-held city of Eastern Ghouta.

His work was involved most with the Bashar al-Assad government along with possible ties with the Hezbollah movement and Iran.

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