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 car 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).
The NYT quoted “a senior official from a Middle Eastern intelligence agency” who on Monday said it was at least the fourth time in three years that Israel has assassinated an enemy weapons engineer. The attack took place on Saturday night in Masyaf, west of Hama, home to one of Syria’s main weapons-development facilities, run by the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center.
According to the Times, the Mossad had been after Asbar for a long time, believing he led the Sector 4 research, retrofitting heavy Syrian SM600 Tishreen rockets. Asbar was also working on a solid-fuel plant for missiles and rockets.
According to the Times, Asbar was also involved in the Assad regime’s chemical-weapons program, as well as in coordinating Iranian and Hezbollah operations in Syria.
An official from Syria and Iran’s alliance told the Times anonymously that Israel sought to kill Asbar even before the start of the civil war in 2011, for his prominent role in Syria’s missile program.
The Times report suggested that Israeli has been launching fierce attacks against Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria because it fears that, once the civil war is over, those forces would turn against Israel.
But Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Monday told Israel’s Channel 2 News: “Every day in the Middle East there are hundreds of explosions and settling of scores. Every time, they try to place the blame on us. So we won’t take this too seriously.”