Syria Air Force Pilot

In what may be one of the highest-profile assassinations since civil war broke out in 2011, a senior official in Syria’s most powerful intelligence service was found shot in the head, opposition sources claimed Wednesday.

The body of Maj. Gen. Nadeem Shallah, head of the Damascus branch in the Air Force Intelligence Directorate, was found in his car in the Syrian capital’s al-Hamra street, Israeli media quoted unnamed Syrian sources as saying.

The circumstances of his death were not made immediately clear and no official government source confirmed the report.

The Air Force Intelligence Directorate (Idarat al-Mukhabarat al-Jawiyya) owes its power in part to the fact that former president Hafez Assad was once air force commander, and later turned the air force intelligence service into his personal action bureau.

Shallah’s Damascus branch is the largest within the organization. Among his responsibilities, Shallah was charged with overseeing Iranian missile shipments intended for the Syrian Air Force.

He was also charged with coordinating between the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force commando unit and Hezbollah’s special ops units.