Chemical weapons scientist assassinated in Syria

Syrian scientist Aziz Azbar

Asbar headed the Syrian Scientific Research Centre in Masyaf, Hama province, which the United States claimed was developing sarin gas used by the Syrian regime.

Western countries accuse the Syria government of possessing chemical weapons, an allegation rejected by Damascus.

A Syrian scientist has reportedly been assassinated in a vehicle bomb attack after he survived Israeli attacks on his research center.

Western intelligence agents have said the organisation is linked to a Syrian chemical weapons programme.

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Israel is believed to be behind air strikes targeting the centre's facilities in Masyaf last month and last September.

"The general was close to Syrian President Bashar al Assad and to Iran", the monitor said.

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.

The Masyaf facility has previously been hit by what the Syrian government said were Israeli strikes in July and previous year in September.

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

The US imposed sanctions against 271 Syrian Scientific Research Centre employees weeks after the attack, saying the agency was responsible for "developing and producing non-conventional weapons and the means to deliver them".

In April, the U.S., Britain and France carried out joint airstrikes against the center's Damascus facilities in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack by government forces near the capital. Asbar was not among the targeted individuals.

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