Dr. Aziz Asbar, a director of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), was killed by a roadside bomb that targeted his car early Sunday morning as he was being driven from his home in the city of Masyaf in Hama province, Syria.
According to Hezbollah’s al-Manar news site, Azbar headed Department 4 at the center. This section is believed to be responsible for developing Syria’s ballistic missile and rocket programs. The department is also in charge of Institute 4000, which allegedly houses several chemical weapons programs. Dr. Azbar was also believed to be involved in helping develop Iran’s Fateh missile program and was reported to have close connections to Iranian and Korean scientists.
Since 2005, the SSRC has been on a list of the US Treasury Department, “Blocking Property of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators and their Supporters.” The SSRC has been hit by two air strikes and one missile strike that were blamed on Israel. Israel has never officially denied or confirmed these allegations.
No official comment from the Syrian authorities has been made but official sources were cited in the Prensa Latina, official state news agency of Cuba, as saying that Israeli intelligence services may be involved.
The Abu Amara Brigades, a Syrian rebel group affiliated with al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the assassination, releasing a statement on their Telegram online channel stating they “planted explosive devices” which detonated and killed Azbar.