ANKARA (Reuters) - Iran denied on Wednesday a monitoring group’s report that an Iranian nuclear scientist had been killed in Syria last week, according to the official IRNA news agency.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday five nuclear engineers, four of them Syrian and one Iranian, were shot dead on the outskirts of Damascus on Sunday while traveling in a small convoy to a research center near the northeastern district of Barzeh.
“No Iranian nuclear scientist was killed in Syria,” Iranian deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Ghashqavi was quoted as saying by IRNA.
No one has claimed responsibility for any such killing that the Observatory said happened in an area controlled by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Iran has backed Assad during Syria’s three-year civil war and Iranian military advisers are working with Syrian forces throughout the country, which is partly under insurgent control.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said last year Syria had declared a “small amount of nuclear material” at a Miniature Neutron Source Reactor, a type of research reactor usually fueled by highly enriched uranium, near Damascus.
Iran denies U.S. and Israeli allegations that it has been trying to develop the capability to assemble atomic weapons.
Iran and the six major powers will meet in Vienna next week trying to seal a long-term agreement by a self-imposed deadline of November 24 to end a dispute over Tehran’s nuclear work that over the last decade has often raised fears of a new Middle East war.
Authorities in Iran have accused Israel and its Western allies of carrying out a series of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists since 2007.
Writing by Parisa Hafezi