Rebels have killed a top intelligence officer in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, Syrian state media said on Thursday.
“Major General Jamaa Jamaa was martyred while carrying out his national duties to defend Syria and its people and pursuing terrorists in Deir Ezzor,” state television said in a breaking news alert.
Jamaa was head of military intelligence in the province, where the regime has been battling armed opposition fighters seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
State media gave no immediate details on where in the province Jamaa was killed or how, but jihadist forums said he died during clashes with jihadist fighters in the city of Deir Ezzor.
Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights NGO, said initial reports suggested Jamaa had been shot by a sniper in the Rashdiya district of Deir Ezzor city, but there was no confirmation.
The group also reported fierce fighting between regime troops and rebels in several parts of the province, including the city, which is the largest in eastern Syria.
Jamaa was one of Syria’s top security officers in Lebanon during Damascus’s military deployment in the country between 1976 and 2005.
He was interrogated over the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri though he was not charged in connection with his death.
In 2006, the US Treasury Department announced it was blacklisting him and another Syrian general for their role in supporting “terrorist groups” and over the presence in Lebanon.
He is believed to be from Jableh, a town in coastal Latakia province, a stronghold of the Syrian regime.