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Top Iranian Scientist Assassinated in Attack on His Convoy

This photo released by the semi-official Fars News Agency shows the scene where Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in Absard, a small city just east of the capital, Tehran, Iran, Nov. 27, 2020.

One of Iran's top nuclear scientists, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed Friday when his vehicle was attacked not far from the capital, Tehran. Iranian media outlets say the country's defense ministry confirmed his death after earlier reports said he was undergoing an operation at a nearby hospital.

Iranian TV broadcast video of the road where top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh's vehicle came under attack. Other video showed a helicopter reportedly transporting Fakhrizadeh and other injured people to a hospital.

Some reports said that explosives went off before gunmen fired into the windshield of the vehicle Fakhrizadeh was riding in.

Photos on social media showed Fakhrizadeh's vehicle with the damaged windshield and a trail of blood not far from the passenger door.

Iranian media blamed Israel for the attack on Fakhrizadeh. Social media also showed a 2018 video of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu detailing alleged facets of Iran's nuclear program before mentioning Fakhrizadeh and calling him a "name to remember."

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

Arab media alleged that Israel was responsible for the assassination of four Iranian nuclear scientists in 2011 and 2012, while launching a failed attack on another scientist in 2015. Israel has not claimed responsibility for those attacks.

Iranian analyst Youssef Yassin told Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV that another Iranian scientist and his daughter were also killed several months ago, not far from the country's intelligence ministry. He added that Israel seized boxes of documents containing alleged information on Iran's nuclear program, several years ago.

Iranian analyst Ali Nourizadeh told Arab media that Fakhrizadeh's killing is the "second biggest blow" to Iran's military this year, following the assassination in January of Iran's top regional commander, General Qassem Suleimani. Suleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike as his vehicle left Baghdad Airport.

Nourizadeh added that Fakhrizadeh was thought to be behind Iran's ballistic missile capabilities that underpin its nuclear program.

Iran's missile program was not part of the 2015 JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) nuclear accord between Tehran and the G-5+1 countries. U.S President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord in May 2018.