Aleppo (Syria): A Syrian rebel group allied with Al-Qaeda said it had downed a warplane over northern Syria today, with the pilot reportedly captured. In a statement on Twitter, Ahrar al-Sham, a hardline Islamist group that fights alongside Al-Qaeda’s local affiliate, said it “shot down a warplane (over the town of Al-Eis) that was conducting airstrikes”.
Earlier, a rebel source had confirmed that a regime warplane had been shot down, but said it was likely by fighters from Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Al-Nusra Front.
The source said the pilot had been taken alive. The Syrian pro-government website Al-Masdar News identified the captured pilot as Khaled Said, quoting army sources. It also reported, citing the same unnamed sources, the “death” of co-pilot Musaab Hourani, without giving further details. There was no immediate confirmation from the Syrian government or the armed forces.
Video footage circulating on social media purported to show the scene where the plane came down, with a dozen men crowding around a man lying in the dirt.
Some of them cry: “He’s Syrian, he’s Syrian!” and others yell: “Get his weapons off him!” AFP could not confirm the authenticity of the footage. Last month, Islamist rebels shot down a regime warplane over the village of Kafr Nabuda in the central province of Hama.
Ahrar al-Sham is allied with Al-Nusra across swathes of northern and northwest Syria, in a coalition called the “Army of Conquest.” On Friday, Al-Nusra and its allies pushed regime loyalists out of Al-Eis, a strategic town in Aleppo province. (AFP)