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Military chief killed in clashes

The head of Syria's air defences has been killed in clashes near the capital, Damascus, one of a few high-ranking military officers to be killed in the country's civil war.

Lieutenant General Hussein Ishaq died yesterday as rebels attacked a Syrian air defence base near the town of Mleiha, a government official said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also confirmed Ishaq's death.

The Observatory said Ishaq was killed in clashes with fighters from the Nusra Front, the al Qaida affiliate in Syria, and other Islamic rebel groups.

Heavy fighting has happened around Mleiha in recent weeks. Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad have conducted a heavy bombing campaign around the area, which rebels see as strategically important due to its proximity to the capital.

Ishaq is one of a few high-ranking military officers to be killed in the Syrian war. It is unclear if his death will have any wider strategic or military impact on the war itself.

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