A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on May 13, 2014, shows people gathering at the site of a car bomb in al-Arin neighborhood in the Damascus countryside. (AFP PHOTO/HO/SANA)
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The commander of Syria's air defense forces has been killed during an offensive by President Bashar Assad's troops against rebels east of Damascus, Islamist rebels and an anti-regime monitoring group said Sunday.They said Gen. Hussein Ishaq died from wounds suffered the previous day during the assault by Assad's forces on the town of Mliha, which appears aimed at expanding the president's control around the capital before a June 3 election. The air defense forces, which have a large base in Mliha and are responsible for defending against air attacks, have played little part in the war with rebels, who have no air power. However, Ishaq is one of the most senior military officials to be killed in three years of fighting. North of Damascus, rebels killed 34 pro-Assad fighters when they attacked an army post near the town of Tal Malah in Hama province, the Observatory said.The rebels who took over Tal Malah included fighters from the Nusra Front – Al-Qaeda's official branch in Syria – and the Islamic Front, an alliance of seven large conservative militias.
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