A senior Syrian Air Force general has been shot dead by rebels in Damascus, state television has reported.

General Abdullah Mahmoud al-Khalidi was gunned down in a suburb of the capital on Monday evening as he left a friend's house.

A state television broadcast on Tuesday said: "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 assassination is the latest in a string of blows for President Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime. In July rebels managed to get a bomb into a government building killing the country's defence minister and Assad's brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat.

An escalation in violence has seen state forces graduating from using helicopter gunships to fighter jets to bomb rebel-held towns.

Five-hundred people were killed during the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, despite an attempted four-day ceasefire.