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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid