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Middle east

Syrian rebels claim to have downed fighter jet

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-08-30

The Free Syrian Army claimed Thursday that it had shot down a fighter jet in Syria’s northwest province of Idlib, adding that the two pilots had been captured. The claims could not be verified.

AFP - The opposition Free Syrian Army claimed shooting down a fighter jet in the northwest province of Idlib on Thursday, as a watchdog reported a fresh eruption of violence across eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus.

"I can confirm that a MiG (plane) was shot down this morning by our men using automatic weapons, shortly after taking off from Abu Zohur military airport in Idlib province," the FSA's Idlib province chief, Colonel Afif Mahmoud Suleiman, told AFP.

"The two pilots who parachuted from the plane were captured," the head of the Military Council in Idlib said in claims that could not be immediately verified.

On August 13, rebels claimed the downing of a Russian-made MiG in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor and the capture of its pilot.

State media said a military plane on a training mission crashed in the east of the country after suffering a malfunction and that the pilot had ejected.

On Monday, rebels in Damascus said they had shot down an army helicopter during fierce fighting in the eastern suburb of Qaboon, saying it was to avenge the "massacre" of over 330 people in the town of Daraya blamed on regime forces.

State television said the helicopter crashed near a mosque but gave no further details.

Suleiman's claims follow reports by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that rebels took over parts of a military airport in Idlib overnight, and that sounds of explosions could be heard inside the facility.

Rebels had on Wednesday said they destroyed five helicopters at a military airport between the northern cities of Aleppo and Idlib, but state media rejected the claims and said no material damage had been caused.

Elsewhere in Idlib on Thursday, the Britain-based Observatory reported fierce shelling on the village of Kfar Nabal, which came under a fierce army bombardment earlier in the week when at least 13 civilians were killed.

In the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, rebels lobbed mortar shells at a military security headquarters in the town of Albu Kamal, the Observatory said, adding that fierce clashes also broke out near another military security headquarters in Deir Ezzor city.

In the capital, gunfire reverberated Thursday across Qaboon, according to the Syrian Revolution General Council, a network of local activists.

Another activist network, the Local Coordination Committees, said that fighting also erupted in the capital's southern Tadamun district.

In the northern city of Aleppo, the contested southern districts of Salaheddin, Saif al-Dawla and Sukari were again the scene of fierce fighting and shelling, the Observatory said.

One civilian was killed in Damascus province, while four were killed in the southern province of Daraa, and another died in Deir Ezzor province, the watchdog added.

The violence followed a bloody day in which 44 civilians were killed in Damascus province alone, according to the Observatory, which said the majority died in or around the eastern belt of the capital, where fighting has centered for the past week.

It reported a total of 128 people -- 77 civilians, 19 rebels and 32 soldiers -- killed nationwide on Wednesday.

The watchdog also reported six unidentified bodies found in the Damascus neighbourhoods of Jubar and Qadam while more casualties were suspected after heavy shelling and shooting overnight on the eastern suburb of Zamalka.

The Observatory says that over 25,000 people have been killed since the uprising against Assad's rule broke out in March last year. The figures are impossible to verify.

Date created : 2012-08-30

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