Israel has been accused of planting a car bomb to assassinate a Syrian rocket scientist at the center of the country’s missile program.
The scientist, Aziz Asbar, had reportedly long been on the radar of Israel’s spy agency, Mossad, for his suspected collaboration with Maj. Gen. Qasem Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, and his role in producing chemical weapons for the Assad regime, according to The New York Times.
A Middle Eastern intelligence official quoted by the Times on Monday said his agency was aware of Mossad’s operation against Asbar, who was killed in an explosion in Masyaf on Saturday.
According to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Asbar was being tracked by Mossad long before he was killed.
He was believed to have led a top-secret weapons program at the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center and had more recently begun developing precision-guided missiles that could strike Israeli cities located hundreds of miles away.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has denied claims Mossad was involved in Asbar’s killing, however, saying “explosions and settling of scores” are common in the Middle East.