Syrian TV: Top army general killed in battle with rebels

A top Syrian army general was killed in fighting with rebels, state-run Syrian television reported Thursday, according to broadcaster Al Arabiya.

Gen. Jameh Jameh, the head of Syrian military intelligence, was killed in Deir el-Zour in eastern Syria. Jameh was shot in the head according to the television station.

“Gen. Jameh Jameh was martyred in Deir el-Zour today while carrying out his national duty of defending Syria and its people against terrorists," read a statement on the Syrian TV website.

Deir el-Zour has seen violent clashes between troops supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad and anti-regime rebels for more than a year.

Also on Thursday, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said a United Nations conference in Geneva on Syria's political future is "closer than ever," The Associated Press reported.

"In our contact with the (Russian) Foreign Ministry, we were informed about the approximate and hypothetical dates for holding it,"Jamil said.

One of Russia's news agencies quoted Jamil as saying "the conference will be held on the 23rd and 24th of November," according to the AP.

The talks have been repeatedly postponed due to disagreements over Assad's future at the head of the country. The main opposition group wants Assad to relinquish power at the end of a transitional period, whereas the regime wants him to stay on until the end of his term in 2014 and then possibly seek re-election. 

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Thursday a team of inspectors was making progress in Syria in its United Nations-backed mission to remove chemical weapons from the country.

The team has visited 11 sites since Oct. 1 and carried out destruction work at six of those, the AP reported.

"Cheap, quick and low-tech. Nothing fancy," OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan said of the work, according to the news agency.

OPCW's mission follows a deadly chemical attack on Aug. 21 aimed at Damascus suburbs under the control of rebel fighters.

More than 100,000 people have died since the conflict in Syria began in 2011 with demonstrations that have since degenerated into a bloody civil war.