Blast kills Syrian researcher suspected of links to chemical weapons


Britain-based war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at the time said the strikes hit the Scientific Studies and Research Centre facility, the agency the USA describes as Syria's chemical weapons manufacturer.

The pro-government Al Watan newspaper reported on its website that Aziz Esber, of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre, died in a blast targeting his vehicle in Hama province.

Aziz Asber, who ran the Masyaf base near the northern city of Hama, died when his auto exploded on Saturday evening.

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

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

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syria war through local contacts, also reported Esber's death.

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Esber played a role in Syria's missile development programme and had close links with the government and its Iranian allies, the Syrian Observatory added.

The SOHR's head, Rami Abdul Rahman, said experts from Iran, a Syrian government ally, were present at the Masyaf centre, which was developing short-range surface-to-surface missiles.

Aziz Asber was the head of a facility belonging to the government's Syrian Scientific Research Centre.

Asbar headed the research centre in Hama's Masyaf, which was targeted in Israeli air strikes last month and in September past year, the Britain-based Observatory said. At the time an Israeli military spokesperson declined to comment on the report.

The Syrian government, backed by Russian Federation, has denied using, or possessing, chemical weapons.