Dr. Aziz Asbar (Azbar) was assassinated in Hama, Syria, when his car exploded.

Dr. Asbar was no simple Dr., as The Jerusalem Post reports:

A senior Syrian scientist was killed in a car bomb explosion in the city of Masyaf in Hama province early Sunday morning, Syrian media has reported.

Dr. Aziz Asbar, one of the directors of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), was killed along with his personal driver as they left Asbar’s home. Syrian officials have yet to comment on his death.

Asbar was believed to be involved in the manufacturing of chemical weapons as well as the development of medium- and long range missiles such as Iran’s Fateh-110 ballistic missile.

The second-most senior scientist at the center after director Dr. Amr Armanazi, Asbar was reported to have close connections to Iranian and Korean scientists.

According to Hezbollah’s al-Manar news site, Asbar headed Department 4 at the center, which focuses on the development of all of Syria’s ballistic missile and rocket programs. The department is also in charge of Institute 4000 which has several chemical-weapons programs.

This screen capture is from a video purporting to show the aftermath of the bombing (not confirmed):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q37BOLYY7Do

So who done it? Hezbollah is blaming Israel, as Israel National News reports:

The Hezbollah terrorist organization accused Israel of carrying out the assassination of a Syrian scientist Saturday night.

The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, which is affiliated with the terrorist group, stated that the prevailing assumption was that Israel was behind the killing of Aziz Asbar, the head of the scientific research center in the city of Masyaf.

Asbar was killed when his car exploded in Masyaf. He was believed to have been involved in the development of chemical weapons for the regime of Bashar Al Assad. Asbar’s driver was also killed in the explosion, which took place near the scientist’s door.

According to the Lebanese article, the assassination is part of Israel’s war aimed at preventing Syria and its allies from rehabilitating their military capabilities following the devastating Syrian civil war- with an emphasis on preventing the development of precision weapons.

Syria also is blaming Israel, though a rebel group is claiming credit:

Syria has pointed the finger at Israel as being behind the assassination of Dr. Aziz Asbar, a senior scientist who was killed in a car bomb Saturday night in Masyaf in Hama Governorate.

Syria’s Arabic-language daily al-Watan said that Israel’s Mossad secret service agency was behind Asbar’s assassination….

Israel, which does not respond to foreign reports, had no comment on the assassination.

But Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman downplayed the possibility of Israeli involvement, telling Hadashot News that “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.”

Notwithstanding that Syria blamed Israel for Asbar’s assassination, a Syrian rebel group affiliated to Tahrir al-Sham claimed responsibility. The group, Abu Amara Brigades, released a statement that they had “planted explosive devices” which killed Asbar.

The New York Times also reports that unnamed intelligence officials say Israel was behind it:

In this case, the accusations were well founded: The Mossad had been tracking Mr. Asbar for a long time, according to the Middle Eastern intelligence official.

The Israelis believed that Mr. Asbar led the secret unit known as Sector 4 at the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center. He was said to have free access to the presidential palace in Damascus and had been collaborating with Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force, and other Iranians to begin production of precision-guided missiles in Syria by retrofitting heavy Syrian SM600 Tishreen rockets.

Mr. Asbar was also working on a solid-fuel plant for missiles and rockets, a safer alternative to liquid fuel.
An official from Syria and Iran’s alliance, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to Western journalists, said he believed Israel had wanted to kill Mr. Asbar because of the prominent role he played in Syria’s missile program even before the current conflict broke out in 2011.

IF Israel did it, it would be consistent with a reported Israeli campaign in the past to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists in Iran.

Anyone want to place bets?

[Featured Image via Facebook and Times of Israel]