[QODLink]
Middle East

Syrian air force chief dies in combat

In blow to Assad regime, air defence chief dies as rebels attack air force headquarters in Mleiha near Damascus.

Last updated: 18 May 2014 21:03
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

The chief of Syria's air defence forces, General Hussein Ishaq, has been killed in combat near Damascus, a security official has told news agencies.

The general died on Saturday of wounds suffered when rebels attacked Syrian air defence headquarters near the town of Mleiha, a key battleground southeast of the capital.

He is one of the few top-ranking officers whose deaths have been announced during Syria's three-year war.

The army's entire arsenal and forces are deployed in Damascus's war against rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime brands the uprising as a foreign-backed "terrorist" plot.

"The regime's air defence force is to face a possible US attack, but in this war it is using its firepower against the rebels," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

'Psychological' blow

Abdel Rahman called Ishaq's death an "important psychological blow" to the regime.

For more than a month, the army backed by the Lebanese Shia group, Hezbollah, has been battling to recapture Mleiha, a strategic rebel bastion.

Mleiha has been under siege for more than a year, and under near-constant bombardment for more than a month.

The UK-based Observatory, an anti-government monitoring group, said that despite initial regime advances in Mleiha, the rebels have recovered ground, retaking several buildings around the central town hall.

While the army remains in control of Damascus, rebels still hold a number of towns and villages on the outskirts, despite a suffocating blockade and frequent air strikes and shelling.

246

Source:
AFP
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Referendum on Scottish independence is the first major election in the UK where 16 and 17-year olds get a vote.
Blogger critical of a lack of government transparency faces defamation lawsuit from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Farmers worry about their future as buyers shun local produce and rivers show an elevated presence of heavy metals.
War-torn neighbour is an uncertain haven for refugees fleeing Pakistan's Balochistan, where locals seek independence.
NSA whistleblower Snowden and journalist Greenwald accuse Wellington of mass spying on New Zealanders.
join our mailing list