It’s been reported a senior Middle East intelligence agency official has blamed Israel’s controversial intelligence agency Mossad for the assassination of a top Syrian rocket scientist.
Aziz Azbar and his driver were killed when his car exploded in the northern city of Masyaf late August 4 — the unnamed official told The New York Times Israel was behind the attack and said his own intelligence agency — again undisclosed — had been informed of the operation in advance.
Mossad apparently targeted Azbar as it was suspected he headed a classified weapons development program — Sector 4 — at the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center. The Center in Masyaf has repeatedly been the target of Israeli airstrikes — one attack in April killed a number of staff stationed there.
The official alleged Israel had been tracking Azbar for years, wanting to assassinate him over his prominent role in Syria’s weapons program prior to the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011.
It’s allegedly the fourth time in three years Mossad has assassinated a weapons engineer in a foreign country. For instance, a Hamas rocket scientist was shot dead in Malaysia in April, and a drone engineer was killed in Tunisia in December 2016.
Mossad has consistently denied responsibility for such killings, and the slaying of Azbar is no exception — on the morning of August 7, Gilad Erdan head of Israel’s Public Security and Strategic Affairs Ministry, declined to discuss Israel’s involvement in the Syrian scientist’s killing, but welcomed the news.