Assad's chemical war expert dies in vehicle blast

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Asbar headed the research centre in Hama's Masyaf, which was targeted in Israeli air strikes last month.

A senior Syrian scientist involved in Syria's chemical-weapons development and Iran's missile program was killed in a bombing, according to Syrian news reports on Sunday.

The pro-regime Al Watan newspaper confirmed the killing.

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Aziz Asber, director of the Syrian Scientific Research Centre, died near the city of Homs when explosives planted in his auto went off, pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan reported Sunday.

There have been no official comments from the Syrian government, with pro-government activists posting photos online of a charred vehicle said to be the scientist's.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Azbar had close ties to Syrian President Bashar Assad and to the Iranian regime.

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The research centre that Asber led in the western city of Masyaf has previously been targeted by air strikes.

The Masyaf facility has previously been hit by what the Syrian government said were Israeli strikes in July and a year ago in September.

Syria has denied owning or using chemical weapons, but the United States and the Syrian opposition accuse the government of carrying out a chemical attack on former opposition stronghold Douma near Damascus that reportedly killed 40 people in April this year.

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The US imposed sanctions against 271 Syrian Scientific Research Centre employees weeks after the attack, saying the agency was responsible for "developing and producing non-conventional weapons and the means to deliver them".