Israel Welcomes Death of Syrian Chemical Weapons Expert

The Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has been accused of killing a top research director at a military agency linked to Syria’s chemical weapons program.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz on Tuesday welcomed the killing of a leading Syrian chemical weapons scientist but refused to comment on speculation that intelligence agency Mossad was involved.

General Aziz Azbar, head of the Syrian government Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), was killed along with his driver in a targeted blast on Saturday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

An insurgent group calling itself the Abu Amara Brigades claimed responsibility for the operation. The group has previously claimed attacks targeting officials and militia commanders inside government territory.

Western and Israeli intelligence agencies have long linked the SSRC to Syria’s chemical weapons program.

The New York Times on Monday quoted “a senior official from a Middle Eastern intelligence agency” as saying that Israel was behind the assassination.

“We don’t of course comment on reports of this kind and I’m not going to comment now,” Mr. Katz told Israeli army radio.

“I can say that assuming the details of this man’s activities are correct and he was engaged in developing chemical weapons and longer-range missiles capable of hitting Israel, I certainly welcome his demise.”

An Israeli air strike targeted the research centre on July 22, Syrian state media reported. An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment.

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