Israel Eliminated Syria's Top Chemical Weapons Scientist

The Masyaf facility has previously been hit by what the Syrian government said were Israeli attacks

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

The pro-government al-Watan newspaper reported on its website Sunday that Aziz Esber, of the Scientific Studies and Research Center, died in a blast targeting his vehicle the previous night, in Syria's Hama province.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said the attack took place on Saturday.

The Abu Amara Brigades released a statement on their Telegram channel saying they had planted explosive devices that detonated and killed Asber.

The group is an affiliate of Islamist group Tahrir al-Sham, which is itself linked with al-Qaeda.

"The general was close to Syrian President Bashar al Assad and to Iran", the monitor said.

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The center has been targeted in two air attacks that have been attributed to Israel, including one in April that killed several Iranians.

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

Israel is believed to be behind air strikes targeting the centre's facilities in Masyaf last month and last September.

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.

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

More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011.

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