Middle East

Syrian air force general 'killed by rebels'

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A senior Syrian air force general has been killed by rebels in central Damascus, state television reports.

Abdullah Mahmoud al-Khalidi was shot dead late on Monday in the capital's Rukn al-Din district, it said.

The attack appears to be the latest in a string of rebel attacks on high-level figures from President Bashar al-Assad's administration.

In July, a bomb killed the country's defence minister and Mr Assad's brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat.

"As part of their campaign to target national personalities and scientists, armed terrorist groups assassinated Air Force General Abdullah Mahmud al-Khalidi in the Damascus district of Rukn al-Din," the broadcaster said.

It added that he was one of Syria's foremost experts in aviation. He was also a member of the Syrian Air Force command, Agence France Presse reports.

The Free Syrian Army claimed that it was behind the attack, saying it had also killed an air force intelligence official in the same operation, AFP reports.

Air strikes

News of the attack came as violence continued in the capital and beyond.

Image caption The opposition says that shelling has continued in the capital

Air strikes hit targets in Damascus and the wider province as well as the north-western province of Idlib and the central province of Homs, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The group said that jets had carried out at least six air raids on Damascus suburbs, including Rankous and Harasta, and that there were intense clashes in those areas as troops attempted to wrestle control from the rebels.

"Members of the Free Syrian Army are shooting at the planes without succeeding in shooting them down," Mohammed Saeed, an activist based in the Damascus suburb of Douma, told the Associated Press.

Activists also reported that the northern rebel-held town of Maarat al-Numan, on the route between Damascus and Aleppo, had also come under fire.

A government official said a car bomb had killed 10 people on the outskirts of Damascus, AP reports.

An opposition activist group, the local Co-ordination Committees in Syria, said that a total of 61 people had died in Syria on Tuesday, among them four women and three children.

It said that a total of 29 had been reported killed in Idlib province, most of whom died after the shelling of Maarat al-Numan.

A further 11 people died in Damascus and its suburbs, eight in Aleppo, six in Homs, six in Deraa and one person in Hama.

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