Islamic State shelling kills Russian general in eastern Syria
A Russian general was killed while battling Islamic State group militants near the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor, Moscow’s defence ministry said Sunday.
“Division general Valeri Assapov was killed when a shell exploded during shelling by IS fighters,” the ministry was quoted as saying by local media, adding that the officer was serving as an adviser to Syrian government troops.
The ministry said Assapov would be posthumously decorated for his service.
Deir Ezzor province, on Syria’s eastern border with Iraq, is rich with oil and gas fields that served as a key revenue stream for IS at the peak of its power.
Russia intervened in support of the Damascus government in September 2015 and has been assisting government forces in an assault on Deir Ezzor from the west.
Russian and Syrian jets on Sunday escalated strikes on rebel held Idlib and Hama provinces, several days after jihadist rebels opened an offensive against government-held parts of northwestern Syria.
The bombing campaign in heavily populated civilian areas shattered six months of relative calm. Russian-inspired ceasefires had given a reprieve to tens of thousands of people living in rebel-held northwestern Syria.
Additional reporting by Reuters