- The Washington Times - Monday, November 10, 2014

Five nuclear engineers — four Syrians and one Iranian — were gunned down late Sunday on the outskirts of Damascus, according to news reports citing claims by a leading Syrian human rights group and a pro-Syrian government website.

The director of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the five were killed when gunmen opened fire on a bus in which they were traveling just north of the capital, an area that otherwise has been generally free of violence in Syria’s 3-year-old civil war.

The director, Rami Abdurrahman, told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper that the goal of the attack appeared to be to “assassinate” the scientists.

U.S. intelligence sources approached by The Washington Times on Monday said they had no information about the incident.

Haaretz maintained that Al-Watan, a pro-Syrian government newspaper, had reported that four “nuclear scientists and electrical engineers” were killed in the attack while traveling on a bus to the Scientific Research Center near Damascus, and suggested that the al Qaeda-linked militant group Nusrah Front was responsible.

No group had claimed responsibility by Monday afternoon, however, and Syria’s official state media had made no mention of the attack, according to Reuters. There was also no reporting on the incident in Iran’s state-controlled media.

But the pro-Syrian government website Damas Now reported that five people were killed in the attack, according to Haaretz, which noted that Israeli military forces in recent years have hit targets inside Syria suspected of being used for military and nuclear research.

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