BEIRUT: The hard-line Islamist Nusra Front has claimed responsibility for killing a top Syrian intelligence officer in Deir al-Zor, in the latest version of last week’s incident.
Maj. Gen. Jamaa Jamaa was killed in the eastern city Thursday.
Syrian state media said he was “pursuing terrorists” in Deir al-Zor when he was killed, without giving further details.
The rebel Free Syrian Army spokesman claimed Jamaa was killed by a roadside bomb attack, while other versions of his death suggested he was slain by the regime.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights suggested Jamaa was killed by a sniper’s bullet, a scenario that was echoed by other pro-opposition sources.
Jamaa was a top security officer in Lebanon during Syria’s presence in its neighbor and was interrogated, but not charged, as part of the investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.
The Nusra Front said Jamaa was killed in a mortar bomb barrage that targeted several regime-held positions in the neighborhood of Rushdieh.
It was the second, detailed statement issued by the Nusra Front about its recent military activities in Deir al-Zor.
“The mortar companies targeted the military hospital, the Military Police [headquarters] and the museum with 120 millimeter mortar bombs, which led to the killing and wounding of a number of soldiers of the tyrant [President Bashar Assad], among them Maj. Gen. Jamaa Jamaa,” the statement said.
As of Friday, the following day, regime losses amounted to 250 personnel, while the jihadists had lost 18 men, the statement said, calling the several-day-long campaign a success.
Most of the city and province is held by rebels, from the Nusra Front and mainstream Free Syrian Army groups, although the regime continues to hold parts of the provincial capital and nearby military installations.