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Head of Syria research center killed in auto bombing: newspaper, rebel group

Head of Syria research center killed in auto bombing: newspaper, rebel group”

The head of a suspected chemical weapons' research centre in Syria has been killed in a auto bombing, pro-government and opposition media report.

Aziz Asber was the director of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre in Masyaf, near Hama, which western governments say was a covert government installation.

There have been 85 chemical attacks across Syria since 2013, the vast majority of which were carried out by the regime, according to Human Rights Watch.

A Syrian scientist has reportedly been assassinated in a vehicle bomb attack after he survived Israeli attacks on his research center.

Local sources said a roadside bomb exploded and killed Esber and his driver in the area, which is located 100 kilometers north of Damascus.

An insurgent group calling itself the Abu Amara Brigades claimed responsibility for the operation.

The attack was claimed by a Syrian group affiliated with the Tahrir al-Sham rebels.

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

The Scientific Research Centre in Masyaf has been targeted by the Israelis several times and most recently was in last month, giving rise to reported suspect that Israel is behind killing of Asber.

Sarin gas was being developed at the centre, according to the United States, a claim denied by the Syrian authorities who say the country does not possess any chemical weapons after a 2013 agreement to hand over its arsenal. Esber was not on the list of targeted individuals.

The US and its allies also blamed government forces for a sarin attack on the suburbs of Damascus in 2013 that killed around 1,000 people.

A number of Syrian and Lebanese news outlets reported the assassination.

The activist group said the video had been sent to Abou Ammar's family, from the village of Shbiki.

The Observatory said Abou Ammar was the first Sweida hostage killed by the group.



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