Syria says peace talks possible as rebels kill top officer

Syria says peace talks possible as rebels kill top officer
An opposition fighter aims with a catapult towards regime forces in the northern embattled Syrian city of Aleppo on October 17, 2013

DAMASCUS - Syria says peace talks could be possible next month amid international efforts to push for a conference in Geneva as a top military intelligence officer was killed in clashes with rebels.

Syrian state television announced on Thursday that Major General Jamaa Jamma "was martyred while carrying out his national duties to defend Syria and its people and pursuing terrorists in Deir Ezzor".

Jamaa was in charge of military intelligence in the eastern province, where jihadist forums said he was killed in clashes with radical Islamist fighters.

The peace process will get a renewed push from US Secretary of State John Kerry, who will travel to London next week for a meeting of the core countries making up the Friends of Syria, the State Department said.

Kerry said "we are trying to move the process forward. I'll have meetings next Tuesday in London with the support group of the (Syrian) opposition".

"We're working towards this Geneva conference, not that we know what the outcome is," he said in an US radio interview.

In Moscow, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said a proposed peace conference in Geneva could take place November 23-24, saying "we are closer than ever to holding the Geneva 2".

Both the Russian foreign ministry and the United Nations said the date of the conference would be decided by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

"When it is time for an announcement, the secretary general will make one," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York.

"And I would remind you and everybody that it is the secretary general who will be convening the conference and it will be the secretary general who invites the different parties to attend."

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