Syria on Tuesday accused Israel of assassinating a top Syrian rocket scientist over the weekend, heightening the growing tensions between the two countries as Syrian government troops restore control over areas bordering Israel. An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment.
According to New York Times report from Jerusalem, an unnamed official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Israel was behind the attack and said his own intelligence agency had been informed of the Israeli operation.
The Syrian Scientific Research Centre has always been a focus of worldwide efforts to curtail Syria's capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological weapons.
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Israel's minister of intelligence says he "welcomes" news that a Syrian scientist was killed by a vehicle bomb, even as Tel Aviv denies any part in the murder. He was also collaborating with Iranian Maj.
Appearing to downplay Israel's suspected involvement Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told Hadashot News: "Every day in the Middle East there are hundreds of explosions and settling of scores".
According to Hadashot news, Azbar was tasked with improving the range and accuracy of the Syrian regime's Scud missiles. The attack, which took place in Masyaf, was at least the fourth assassination mission by Israel in three years against an enemy weapons engineer on foreign soil. He led a top-secret weapons-development unit called Sector 4 and was hard at work building and underground weapons factory to replace one destroyed by Israel a year ago.
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Saudi's foreign ministry called the statement "a major, unacceptable affront to the kingdom's laws and judicial process". Saudi Arabia's media ministry is investigating the incident, which came as tensions between the two countries escalated.
Early 2017 marked the low point for Bashar Assad in his country's now seven-year-old civil war with his authority confined to just 17 percent of national territory.
At the time of the July 22 strike that killed two Syrians, the Syrian Observatory confirmed that the attack targeted a "workshop supervised by Iranians where surface-to-surface missiles are made".
A succession of victories since then over both the Islamic State group and various rebel factions has extended government control to almost two-thirds of the country.
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