Syria air defence head killed

The head of Syria’s Air Defence has been killed in fighting east of Damascus.

Syria’s civil war enters a fourth year on March 15, 2014, with at least 146,000 people dead and millions more homeless, cities and historical treasures in ruins, the economy devastated and no end in sight. Picture: AFP.

BEIRUT - The head of Syria's Air Defence has been killed in fighting east of Damascus, an Islamist rebel coalition and a monitoring group said on Sunday.

They said General Hussein Ishaq died of wounds suffered during a military offensive by President Bashar al-Assad's forces against rebels in Mleiha suburb, where the Air Defence administration has a large base.

"We announce good news to the Islamic nation, of the killing of one of the leaders of unbelief, General Hussein Yaqoub Ishaq, head of the Air Defence Administration in Mleiha," the Islamic Front said in a statement.

Ishaq died on Sunday of wounds inflicted a day earlier "when rebels confronted an attempt to storm Mleiha", it said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, also reported Ishaq's death in Mleiha, which has seen heavy fighting in recent days.

Mleiha is close to the road linking central Damascus to the international airport. It is also on the edge of the eastern Ghouta region - a mix of farmland and small towns which have formed a base for rebel fighters but which have been surrounded by Assad's forces for more than a year.

State media made no mention of Ishaq's reported death but pro-Assad Internet sites also said he had been killed in Mleiha.