Israel’s Mossad spy agency was behind a car bomb blast that killed a Syrian scientist over the weekend, several media reports have suggested.
A senior official from a Middle Eastern intelligence agency told The New York Times on Monday that Mossad had a hand in the assassination of Aziz Azbar, the head of the Syrian Scientific Research and Studies Center in the city of Masyaf.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said his agency had been informed of the operation, and that Mossad had been tracking Azbar for a long time.
In a similar report, Syria’s al-Watan newspaper also suggested that Israel’s Mossad was behind the targeted killing.
The Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah – which has been helping the Syrian army in its ground operations against terrorists – also pointed the finger at Mossad in the killing of the Syrian scientist, according to the Beirut-based al-Akhbar newspaper.
The report said the assassination was part of Israel’s campaign of aggression aimed at preventing Syria from rehabilitating its defense capabilities when the crisis in the Arab country comes to an end — with an emphasis on preventing the development of precision weapons.
In an interview on army radio on Tuesday, Israel’s Intelligence and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz welcomed Asbar’s “departure from the world.”
But Israeli Minister of Military Affairs Avigdor Lieberman downplayed the possibility of Israeli involvement, telling Channel 2 news that, “Every day in the Middle East, there are hundreds of explosions and settling of scores. Every time they try to place the blame on us. So we won’t take this too seriously.”
The scientific center, run by Azbar, was the target of at least two Israeli aerial assaults over the past months.
Israel frequently attacks military targets inside Syria in an attempt to prop up terrorist groups that have been suffering defeats against Syrian government forces. The regime has also been providing weapons to anti-Damascus militants as well as medical treatment to Takfiri elements wounded in Syria.
In recent years, the Tel Aviv regime has been blamed for the killing of several scientists including two engineers from the Gaza-based Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, in the last 18 months.
A Hamas rocket scientist was shot dead by gunmen in Malaysia in April and a drone engineer was killed in Tunisia in December 2016. Hamas blamed Mossad in both cases.