Israel’s minister of intelligence says he “welcomes” news that a Syrian scientist was killed by a car bomb, even as Tel Aviv denies any part in the murder.
The New York Times reported that Israel’s Mossad was behind the attack.
Intelligence and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz weighed in on allegations that Israeli Mossad agents killed Dr. Aziz Asbar near the northwestern Syrian city of Masyaf, commenting that "assuming that [Asbar] was indeed involved in terrorist activity, I welcome his departure from the world.”
Asbar, the research director at Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center, was believed to be developing a secret weapons manufacturing facility with the help of Iran, which was to be used to manufacture precision-guided missiles in Syria.
He was killed on Saturday by an explosive device planted on his car.
Tel Aviv has remained tight-lipped about any involvement in Asbar’s murder.
“Every day in the Middle East there are hundreds of explosions and settling of scores,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel’s Channel 2 News. “Every time, they try to place the blame on us. So we won’t take this too seriously.”
Citing an unnamed official from a Middle Eastern intelligence agency, the New York Times reported Monday that Israeli agents were behind Asbar’s murder, claiming that “the Mossad had been tracking Mr Asbar for a long time.”
According to unnamed officials cited by the Times, Asbar was targeted by Israel because he was helping Syria to develop long-range missiles accurate enough to target Israeli cities hundreds of miles away.
Syria’s al-Watan daily newspaper said that Asbar was killed because of his “important” work on Syrian defense systems, writing in a commentary published on Tuesday that “yet again the Israeli enemy has assassinated one of the greatest Syrian minds.”