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Syrian air force general killed as Turkey rules out further talks

Syrian state television has announced that one of the country's air force generals has been assassinated. This comes as neighboring Turkey ruled out any further dialogue with the Syrian regime.

Groups with connections to "terrorist" cells had killed a Syrian air force general in the north of Damascus, state television said on Tuesday.

"As part of their campaign to target national personalities and scientists, armed terrorist groups assassinated Air Force General Abdullah Mahmud al-Khalidi in the Damascus district of Rukn al-Din," the station said. It gave no further details.

The rebel Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the murder in an internet statement released on Tuesday. It said Khalidi was in charge of training and was an air force intelligence specialist.

News of the assassination came as Syrian fighter jets reportedly hit targets inside the capital for the first time in the 19-month conflict. According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights four bombs were dropped on the east Damascus neighborhood of Jobar, near the opposition-held suburb of Zamalka. There were no reports of any casualties.

Earlier on Tuesday, violent clashes erupted in a central Palestinian refugee camp south of Syria's capital.

The clashes broke out one day after the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha ended, with 560 people, including 235 civilians, reportedly killed during the period which had been designated by peace envoy Lahkdar Brahimi as a truce.

Turkey says no to dialogue

Meanwhile, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu ruled out any dialogue with Syria over the ongoing conflict.

"There is no point in engaging in dialogue with a regime that continues to carry out such a massacre against its own people, even during [the Muslim religious festival of] Eid al-Adha," Davutoglu told a news conference.

A day earlier Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on western countries and regional players, including Turkey, to begin talks with President Bashar Assad as well as the opposition in order to pave the way for a political solution in Syria.

"Hardly anything will be accomplished without dialogue with the government, and that is the only problem that remains in the path towards a political process," Lavrov said earlier this week after meeting with Brahimi, who represents both the Arab League and the United Nations.

Davutoglu's comments come as Brahimi was due in China for talks to revive efforts to stop the Syrian conflict.

jlw, ccp/jm (APF, AP, dpa, Reuters)