Report: Syrian Chemical Weapons Chief Killed in Car Bombing

According to reports, Dr. Aziz Asber ran a scientific development center in Masyaf, which was previously attacked several times ■ Syrian rebel group affiliated with Nusra Front claims assassination

A senior Syrian chemical weapons development scientist was killed Saturday overnight when his car exploded in the city of Masyaf in northwestern Syria, Al-Manar news reported.

According to reports, Dr. Aziz Asber ran a scientific development center in the city, which was attacked several times before. The blast also killed his personal driver.

Al-Manar, which dubbed Asber a "patriotic scientist," reported the explosion occurred minutes after Asber left his house. He ran the northern bureau for research and science and was considered close to several power players in the Assad regime.

Photo of Asbar distributed on social media

The attack on Asber was claimed by a Syrian rebel group affiliated to Tahrir al-Sham, a rebel group. It includes the group formerly known as the Nusra Front, which served as al Qaeda's Syrian branch. 

The Abu Amara Brigades released a statement on their Telegram online channel that said they "planted explosive devices" which detonated and killed Asber. 

Several strikes on Masyaf have been attributed to Israel in recent years, the last of which was on July 22.

The Syrian opposition blamed the attack on the Assad regime, claiming Asber was very familiar with Syria's chemical weapons deployment and its use against civilians. Syrian authorities have yet to comment on the matter.

According to U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the center Asber managed housed a missile warehouse, and opposition forces reported Iranian presence in the region.

It was previously reported the chemical weapons development facility supplied weapons to the Assad army and Lebanon-based Hezbollah.

Al-Manar is a Lebanese satellite television station associated with Hezbollah. It is banned in the United States, France, Germany and Spain.

Last week, Syrian state media reported that air defences had destroyed a “hostile target” west of the capital Damascus.

“Our air defences confronted a hostile target and destroyed it west of Damascus,” the state news agency SANA said, quoting a military source.