Published: Tue, August 07, 2018

Syrian conflict: Government scientist killed in blast

Syrian conflict: Government scientist killed in blast

Asbar headed the research centre in Hama's Masyaf, which was targeted in Israeli air strikes last month.

A Syrian rebel group has claimed it killed the director of a government chemical weapons programme research facility in a vehicle bombing.

Aziz Asber, the head of the Scientific Research Centre in Syria's central province of Hama, has been assassinated, according to activists and pro-government reports.

Asber died after an explosion targeted his auto in the Hama countryside, al-Watan said in an online report.

The research centre that Asber led in the western city of Masyaf has previously been targeted by air strikes.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Azbar had close ties to Syrian President Bashar Assad and to the Iranian regime.

Sarin gas was being developed at the centre, according to the U.S., a claim denied by the Syrian authorities who say the country does not possess any chemical weapons after a 2013 agreement to hand over its arsenal.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a United Nations watchdog, determined that the Syrian government used sarin in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in April a year ago that killed about 100 people and affected about 200 others.

Israel has been accused twice in the past of carrying out attacks against the research center run by Asbar, one of them in September 2017.

An Israeli government official declined to comment on reports of Asber's death when asked by the Reuters news agency.

The US and its allies also blamed government forces for a sarin attack on the suburbs of Damascus in 2013 that killed around 1,000 people.

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