When a Syrian scientist was killed while leaving his house in Hama, Damascus paid attention. The Syrian regime was being sent a message. The Jerusalem Post reports that the scientist allegedly played a major role in Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center. The center conducts research and development of chemical weapons and long-range missiles.
This slaying indicates a shift in the way the war is playing out. It’s moving from a conflict between rebels and the government to a conflict that plays out within the region. The United States, Turkey, Russia and Iran have some level of presence out there and are therefore watching the situation very closely.
The scientist, Dr. Aziz Asbar was trying to get a medium and long-range missile program off the ground as part of his work for the SSRC. A car bomb killed him last Saturday, with Syrian expert Tony Badran tweeting “Reports that Aziz Esber, a very senior figure in the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, who worked on missile development and directed R&D facility in Masyaf, was killed in a car bomb in Hama.” The Masyaf facility was one of the most important sites.
In April 2017, the United States Treasury Department slapped 271 staff members of the SSRC with sanctions in April of last year.