Israel Has Been Accused of Assassinating a Top Syrian Scientist

Aziz Asbar was one of the country's most important rocket scientists.

A Syrian soldier sprays water on the wreckage of a building described as part of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) compound in the Barzeh district, north of Damascus, during a press tour organised by the Syrian information ministry, on April 14, 2018. (LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

Aziz Asbar was one of Syria’s most important rocket scientists, according to The New York Times, and he was set on amassing an arsenal of precision-guided missiles that could be launched with pinpoint accuracy against Israeli cities hundreds of miles away. Asbar led a top-secret weapons-development unit called Sector 4 and was working on building an underground weapons factory to replace on that was destroyed by Israel last year. He had free access to the highest levels of Syrian and Iranian governments, as well as his own security detail.

On Saturday, he was killed by a car bomb. The Times reports that the bomb was apparently planted by Mossad, the Israeli spy agency. The attack, which took place in Masyaf, was at least the fourth assassination mission by Israel in three years against an enemy weapons engineer on foreign soil.

According to a senior official from a Middle Eastern intelligence agency, the Mossad had been tracking Asbar for a long time. An official from Syria and Iran’s alliance, who spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to Western journalists, said that he believed Israel had wanted to kill Asbar because he played a prominent role in Syria’s missile program even before the current conflict broke out in 2011.

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