Mossad behind assassination of Syrian rocket scientist

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Everybody knew it had to be the Mossad, and now the NY Times confirmed it: Aziz Asbar, Syria's top rocket scientists who was leading a top-secret weapons-development unit called Sector 4, to construct precision-guided missiles to hit Israeli cities hundreds of miles away, was killed by a auto bomb on Saturday, "apparently" planted by eliminated by Israel's much feared clandestine agency (A Top Syrian Rocket Scientist Is Blown Up, and Fingers Point at Mossad).

Israeli sources are reporting that the country's intelligence suspected Azbar of leading a classified weapons development programme called Sector 4 at the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, and was busy re-building an underground weapons factory to replace the one said to have been destroyed by Israel a year ago.

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.

Aziz Asbar, the head of a scientific research center, was assassinated late Saturday in the town of Maysaf in the central province of Hama, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Esber had played a key role in developing Syrian chemical weapons in recent years, and was also charged with coordinating Iranian and Hizballah activities in Syria, according to the source.

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His center was the target of Israeli air attacks last month and in September, the Observatory added.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz on Tuesday welcomed the killing of a leading Syrian weapons scientist but declined to comment on reports his government was behind the fatal bombing.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday dismissed the media reports.

It was reportedly the fourth assassination mission carried out by Israel against an enemy weapons engineer on foreign soil in the past three years, according to the senior official quoted by the Times. Israel has carried out more than 100 airstrikes against targets in Syria since 2012 aimed either at Iranian military facilities or at attempts to transfer sophisticated weapons to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.