Senior Syrian military intelligence officer Jama’a Jama’a was killed Thursday in the largely rebel-held eastern province of Deir al-Zour, according to Syrian State TV and opposition activists. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said snipers shot Jama’ain the midst of clashes, however government reports were unclear on where, when, and how he was killed.

He was reportedly among President Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle as well as one of the country’s most prominent military officials. Jama’a was one of the highest-ranking officers in Lebanonduring Syria’s deployment to the neighboring country from 1976 through 2005. Clasheswere reported overnight in several neighborhoods of the city of Deir al-Zour, and government air strikes hit the area Friday morning. Rebel fighters appeared to have seized territory near the Rashdiya district, and according to the Observatory captured and executed 10 regime soldiers. Meanwhile, the United States and Russia have denied a date has been set for a peace conference on Syria in Geneva, a day after Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said talks were scheduled for November 23 and 24. U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said, “We have discussed potential dates but nothing has been finalized.”