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.”
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. He was killed on Saturday by an explosive device planted on his car.
Tel Aviv has remained tight-lipped about any involvement in Asbar’s murder. “Every day in the Middle East there are hundreds of explosions and settling of scores,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel’s Channel 2 News. “Every time, they try to place the blame on us. So we won’t take this too seriously.”
Citing an unnamed official from a Middle Eastern intelligence agency, the New York Times reported Monday that Israeli agents were behind Asbar’s murder, claiming that “the Mossad had been tracking Mr Asbar for a long time.” According to unnamed officials cited by the Times, Asbar was targeted by Israel because he was helping Syria to develop long-range missiles accurate enough to target Israeli cities hundreds of miles away.
Syria’s al-Watan daily newspaper said that Asbar was killed because of his “important” work on Syrian defense systems, writing in a commentary published on Tuesday that “yet again the Israeli enemy has assassinated one of the greatest Syrian minds.”
One of Syria’s leading pro-government newspapers has said that Israel was behind a bomb blast in Hama province that killed a senior scientist working for the country’s missile program. Aziz Azbar was reportedly a senior research director at the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, known as CERS.
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