The chief of Syria's air defense forces, General Hussein Ishaq, has been killed by rebels in what was described by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as an "important psychological blow" to the regime, reported Agence France-Presse on Sunday.
The general had been fighting at Mleiha, a key battleground southeast of the capital. He is of the few top-ranking officers whose deaths have been announced during Syria's three-year war, according to AFP.
"The regime's air defense force is to face a possible U.S. attack, but in this war it is using its firepower against the rebels," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
For more than a month the Syrian army, backed by Lebanese Shia terror militia Hezbollah, has been fighting to force the rebels out of Mleiha.