News / Middle East

Jets Bomb Eastern Syrian City After Intelligence General Killed

An undated handout photograph shows top-ranking general in Syrian military intelligence, General Jama'a Jama'a who was killed in Deir al-Zor city on Oct. 17, 2013
An undated handout photograph shows top-ranking general in Syrian military intelligence, General Jama'a Jama'a who was killed in Deir al-Zor city on Oct. 17, 2013
Reuters
Syrian air force jets bombarded the eastern city of Deir al-Zor on Friday after heavy overnight clashes and the killing of one of President Bashar al-Assad's top military intelligence officers, activists said.
 
General Jama'a Jama'a was shot dead on Thursday by snipers in the midst of a battle with rebels including forces linked to al-Qaida, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
 
His death, celebrated by rebels and opposition activists, marked a significant setback for Assad's bid to retain a hold over the city, capital of the eastern oil-producing province.
 
A death notice published on Facebook said Jama'a's body was being flown back for burial on Friday in his home village of Zama in the mountains overlooking the Mediterranean Sea - the heartland of Assad's Alawite sect.
 
Syria's 2-1/2-year civil war began as a peaceful protest movement but has degenerated into a brutal civil war with sectarian dimensions. Syria's Sunni Muslim majority has largely joined the uprising against four decades of Assad family rule. Minority sects such as the Alawites, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, have largely stood behind the president.
 
Jama'a, 59, had served as Syria's top military intelligence officer in Lebanon until Damascus withdrew its forces from its smaller neighbor under intense international pressure in 2005.
 
The withdrawal followed the Feb. 14, 2005 assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, a killing widely blamed at the time on Syria, and for which Jama'a himself was investigated, the Observatory said.
 
Jama'a was then appointed chief of military intelligence in Deir al-Zor, a prominent and sensitive position because of the flow of Sunni militants across the border into Iraq where insurgents were fighting U.S. and Iraqi Shi'ite forces.
 
In August 2011, five months after protests first erupted against Assad, the European Union imposed sanctions on Jama'a for his role in “repression and violence against the civilian population”.
 
Activists say dozens of rebels and pro-Assad forces have been killed this week in heavy fighting around Deir al-Zor.
 
The Observatory reported clashes overnight in several districts of the city overnight and said rebels from the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front executed 10 soldiers they captured in the Rashidiyah district, where Jama'a was killed on Thursday.
 
While rebels had made progress and launched an attack on the nearby military airport, they were unlikely to achieve a speedy victory in the strategic oil region which borders Iraq, the Observatory's Rami Abdulrahman said.
 
Although much of the oil-producing province of Deir al-Zor is under rebel control, some tribes remain loyal to Assad and control of the city itself is shared between rebels and loyalists, he said.
 
Preparing for peace talks
 
Syria's civil war has killed more than 100,000 people and divided the Middle East between Sunni Gulf states and Turkey which mostly support the rebels and Shi'ite Iran and Hezbollah which have backed Assad.
 
International efforts are growing to convene peace talks in Geneva next month, encouraged by rare agreement among global powers over the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons after Sarin gas attacks near Damascus in August.
 
But the United States and Russia, responding to Syria's announcement that the talks would go ahead in Geneva on November 23-24, said on Thursday that no date had yet been set.
 
The international envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is due to hold talks in the Middle East next week to try to prepare for the negotiations, his spokeswoman Khawla Mattar said.
 
Mattar said Brahimi would start his tour in Cairo on Saturday, meeting Egypt's foreign minister. A visit to Tehran was still being discussed, she said.
 
Chemical weapons experts have so far visited around half the sites they are due to inspect in the early stages of their mission to oversee the elimination of an arsenal believed to contain 1,000 tons of chemical agents and precursors.
 
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said on Thursday it was confident that it would meet deadlines for the destruction of the chemical stockpiles, although it still faces major challenges.
 
At least one site linked to Syria's chemical weapons program - near the northern town of Safira - is close to ongoing battles between rebels and Assad's forces.
 
Malik Ellahi, special adviser to the OPCW's director Ahmet Uzumcu, said discussions were being held to gain access to sites in sensitive locations.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid