World Bulletin / News Desk
A Syrian rebel group said on Wednesday it had killed a Russian general working as an adviser to Syria's ministry of defence in an operation in the western Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus.
A video statement from a group calling itself the "Hawks Special Operations Battalion ... a division of the Military Leadership of Damascus City and Province" gave the name of the general as Vladimir Petrovich Kochyev. The video, sent to Reuters, showed what the rebels said was a copy of his ID issued by the Syrian military.
There was no immediate comment from the Russian authorities.
"With the help of God, the Russian adviser for the minister of defence for military scientific affairs, General Vladimir Petrovich Kochyev, has been eliminated with his personal translator, Ahmad a-Ayyouq," Lieutenant Majid Sayyed Ahmad of the Hawks battalion said in the video.
"A number of Syrian army documents have been also seized, together with reports about the opposition and the Free Syrian Army, adding to the achievements on the road to the liberation of Syria from the Assad gang," said Ahmad, who gave his title as "commander of operations and special assignments".
The statement did not say when Kochyev was assassinated, but a senior opposition figure in contact with the group, who did not want to be named, said he was killed about two weeks ago.
He described Hawks battalion as a professional unit led by officers who had defected from the Syrian army.
The same group claimed responsibility for the assassination of four of President Bashar al-Assad's top lieutenants in Damascus last month.
Among the documents the video showed was a letter by the Syrian chief of staff, Fahed al-Freij, who is also the defence minister, asking the head of the Russian military advisers in Syria to extend Kochyev's term as adviser.
The video also showed a photo of Kochyev and another Russian officer in military uniforms posing with Freij. Its authenticity could not be independently verified.
Russia, which has an estimated several hundred military personnel in Syria, is one of the few countries still backing Assad diplomatically since a popular uprising against his rule erupted 17 months ago.
Pope’s visit coincides with 70th anniversary of launch of diplomatic relations between Egypt, Vatican
Decision follows Agramunt's March visit to Syria, and meeting with President Bashar al-Assad
Recently-appointed governor of southern Abyan province comes under fire while en route to Aden
Syrian Democratic Forces largely made up of PKK/PYD members, security officials say
The 80-year-old pontiff is due in Cairo around 1400 (1200 GMT) and his 27 hours on Egyptian soil will include a meeting with the grand imam of the Al-Azhar mosque, sealing a recent improvement in relations between Catholicism and the Sunni branch of Islam.
The GCC was formed in the wake of Iran's 1979 revolution and includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.
Russia's military said a day after the attack that Syria's air defences would be boosted.
Ayman Nour was a candidate in the 2005 presidential election
Israel has not confirmed or denied an attack on Damascus early on Thursday morning
Houthis, allies yet to comment on reported air attack in southwestern Taiz province
In a report ahead of an international donor conference next week, it said Thursday that foreign aid alone cannot rescue the stagnant Palestinian economy without practical changes and Israeli cooperation.
But his visit comes as Al-Azhar, which runs one of the world's oldest universities, is under fire from critics within Egypt who say the Muslim institution has itself become part of the problem.
A loud explosion has been heard with a fire reported near Damascus airport
Saudi authorities claim to foil attack by Shia Houthi militia in kingdom’s southwestern Jazan region
He said the analysis of samples taken at the scene of the April 4 attack in Khan Sheikhun showed "there is no doubt that sarin gas was used".
The Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the meeting was cancelled after Gabriel decided to go ahead with talks with Israeli rights groups Breaking The Silence and B'Tselem.