Syria war: Air chief Gen Hussein Ishaq ‘dies in clashes’


The head of Syria’s air defences has been killed in fighting near Damascus, government officials report, according to the BBC.
Gen Hussein Ishaq was killed as rebels attacked an air defence base near the town of Mleiha on Saturday, the officials said. He is one of a handful of high-ranking military officers to be killed in the country’s civil war.
Rebels are fighting to depose President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in a conflict that began three years ago. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported Gen Ishaq’s death. Director Rami Abdel Rahman said his death was an “important psychological blow” to the regime. The rebels do not have an air force, the agency adds, so forces under Ishaq’s command have rarely been deployed for air defence. For more than a month the Syrian army, backed by Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah, has been fighting to force the rebels out of Mleiha. The Observatory said that despite initial regime advances in Mleiha, the rebels have recovered ground, retaking several buildings around the central town hall. The army is completely in control of Damascus, but rebels still hold several towns and villages on the outskirts of the city despite blockades, air strikes and shelling.

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