The Latest: Slain Iran general was key figure in Syria war

AP News
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Posted: Oct 09, 2015 9:16 AM
The Latest: Slain Iran general was key figure in Syria war

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — The latest developments as Syrian troops and other nations battle militants in Syria. (All times local in Syria).

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04:00 p.m.

Iranian officials say a senior commander in the country's powerful Revolutionary Guard who was killed in Syria was a key figure in the fight against terrorism.

Lawmaker Ismail Kowsari, a member of the parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, told the semi-official Fars news agency that Gen. Hossein Hamedani played a significant role in coordination between the Syrian army and Iranian-backed volunteer forces.

He said the commander was on a "temporary" advisory mission to Syria.

Hamedani was killed by the Islamic State group on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Aleppo Thursday night, Iranian state media announced Friday.

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02:15 p.m.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter confirms the U.S. has indications that four Russian cruise missiles crashed in Iran rather than Syria, suggesting there were malfunctions.

It's the first public comment by a U.S. official on the cruise missile failures.

Carter is speaking at a press conference in London with British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon. The British are part of the coalition striking Islamic State fighters in Iraq, but are not conducting strikes in Syria.

As many as four of the 26 long-range cruise missiles that Russia said it fired at Syrian targets landed instead in Iran.

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01:40 p.m.

Activists have reported more than 20 explosions in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa held by the Islamic State group.

A Raqqa-based collective called Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered said 22 blasts shook the city late Thursday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the 20 explosions killed 14 IS fighters and wounded more than 20.

The group said it was not clear if the explosions were the result of air raids by the U.S.-led coalition or Russian warplanes.

The Observatory's chief Rami Abdurrahman and Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered say a training facility, known as Vanguards Camp, was hit on the southern edge of the city.

France's Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said French warplanes bombed a training camp in Raqqa.

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11:50 a.m.

Syrian activists say the Islamic State group has launched a surprise attack in the northern province of Aleppo, seizing a string of villages from rebels.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the advance by the extremists is the most significant in months.

It comes amid a wave of Russian airstrikes and a ground offensive by the Syrian army in the country's central region.

The Observatory said IS seized the villages of Tal Qrah, Kfar Qares and at least four other small villages in the northern Aleppo countryside. IS-affiliated accounts on Twitter also announced the militants had seized those villages.

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10:55 a.m.

Iranian state television is reporting that a senior commander in Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard has been killed in Syria.

The report Friday said that Gen. Hossein Hamedani was killed in the suburbs of Aleppo in Syria while "carrying out an advisory mission," but didn't provide any further details.

Hamedani is one of the most senior Guard commanders to be killed in Syria. He was a veteran commander who had an important role in Iran's 1980-88 war with Iraq.

Iran is one of Syrian President Bashar Assad's main allies. Tehran has provided his government with military and political backing for years and has kept up its support since Syria's civil war began in 2011.

Guard commanders repeatedly have said Iran only has high-level advisers in Syria, denying it has fighters there.

Assad is from the Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Iran is majority Shiite. Syria's rebels are mostly Sunni

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10:40 a.m.

Turkey's state-run news agency says Syrian journalist Salih Mahmud Leyla, who reported for the agency from northern Syria, has been killed in car bomb attack.

The Anadolu Agency said Friday that Leyla, 27, died in the attack in the town of Hreitan, in northern Aleppo province, late Thursday. It said the attack is believed to have been carried out by Islamic State militants.

Leyla sent photographs and videos from clashes in northern Syria and also reported on hardships suffered by the people there, Anadolu said.

In July, Leyla received injuries to his face while reporting on clashes in Aleppo and was brought to Turkey for treatment.

Leyla, who was from Aleppo, had trained as a computer technician. His wife of one year is expecting their first child, Anadolu said.

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0935 a.m.

France's defense minister says French fighter jets fired airstrikes on the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, targeting foreign fighters plotting attacks in Europe.

Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Europe-1 radio Friday that two Rafale jets bombed a training camp "and the objective was achieved." It was the second French strike on Syria, and Le Drian said "it will not be the last."

He did not elaborate on the purported attack plots.

He criticized Russia's stepped-up and wide-ranging military action in Syria, saying "80 to 90 percent" of its actions do not target the Islamic State group. Russia says its air campaign is aimed against Islamic militants.

France joined the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq last year and expanded its campaign to Syria last month.