Damascus (GPA) – Dr. Aziz Isbir, director of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, was killed in a car bomb attack late Saturday night. A Telegram post by the Abu-Amara battalion, a terrorist group affiliated with Tahrir al-Sham and al-Nusra (al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch), claimed responsibility for the attack through “an improvised explosive device.”
Dr. Isbir’s personal driver was also killed in the attack.
Al-Watan, a Syrian news outlet, reported Tuesday that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, was responsible for the attack. The New York Times also cited a senior Middle East intelligence offer in confirming the Zionist role in the attack as well.
Hezbollah also had claimed Mossad’s role in the blast two days prior.
Repeated Israeli airstrikes struck the center’s military research facilities in the Maysaf region of Hama on July 22 also likely targeted the research director.
An Israeli official declined to comment on any involvement in the car bomb blast, according to Reuters.
Israel also struck the research facility last September, exactly 10 years after the occupying entity had taken out a Syrian nuclear reactor.
Last April, coalition forces comprised of the U.S., Britain, and France, participated in strikes targeting the center’s Damascus facilities in response to a fabricated chemical weapon attack falsely attributed to the Syrian government.
The car bomb murder followed recent gains by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) against terrorist affiliates in the Zallaqat area, in Hama’s rural north. Amidst heavy shelling, the SAA had foiled an attack by the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, and its terrorist affiliates earlier that Saturday.
According to the state-based Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), the SAA was able to thwart the attempt to infiltrate Syrian lines this past weekend as it exchanged fire with terrorist forces. SANA added that the SAA also accrued a high number of enemy casualties, including Khair Eddine al-Rahmon, a terrorist with the “Army of Al-Azza” group.
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State army troops had also foiled another terrorist attack on their headquarters along the al-Ghab plain, close to Hama and Idlib, on Friday. The SAA also shelled enemy hideouts and supply lines in the region.
Strikes in the Northern Hama towns of Zaiyzoun, Ziyarah, Zakat, Arbeen, and Janabrah successfully destroyed 5 terrorist bases and 2 weapons storage facilities, according to Syrian military sources.
Reports on Friday disclosed the SAA’s arrival in the east of Suwaida in southeastern Syria, where over 200 civilians were killed and 36 women and girls abducted July 25, to launch attacks against ISIS cells that, today, have beheaded a 19-year-old hostage.
Terrorist presence in Southwestern Syria follows the July 22 evacuation of White Helmets by Western and Israeli forces to Jordan–soon after the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) cleared airspace for terrorist factions following its attack on a Syrian rocket that had launched from its T4 airbase.
These recent gains by the SAA are part of a preparation for major offensives against terrorist opposition enclaves in their final strongholds in Idlib. China, though not having a current ground presence in Syria, reportedly has opened up to the possibility of increased military collaboration with the Syrian government. This includes offering assistance to the SAA in Idlib.
The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), a terrorist group operating in Idlib, includes thousands of Chinese Ughyr fighters, posing a national security concern for China.
This post was updated on August 8 to reflect current information about Israel’s role in the attack.
Featured photo: The blast site from an attack in Hama.
Julia is a Detroit-based freelance journalist, activist, researcher, and chair of local US Palestine Community Network.