BEIRUT (AP) - A media outlet affiliated with the Syrian military says a senior commander who led the fight against Islamic Sate militants in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour has been killed.
The Central Military Media said on Wednesday that Brig. Gen. Issam Zahreddine was killed in Hawija Saqr, east of Deir el-Zour, in operations against IS militants.
The Lebanese Al-Manar TV, which is close to the Syrian government, said a land mine killed him.
Zahreddine was a key commander in the Syrian army, maintaining a government presence in Deir el-Zour despite a nearly three years-long siege on his forces. The siege was breached in September in a Russian-backed offensive, and the government and allied troops have since seized most of the city.
Zahreddine, who was in his late 50s, also led government offensives against armed opposition in the central Homs province and near the capital, Damascus, in the earlier days of the Syrian conflict.
In comments widely played after Deir el-Zour's siege was breached, Zareddine warned those who fled the country not to return because the army "will never forget or forgive." He later apologized on state TV.