Pilot captured after Syrian warplane shot down by Islamist rebels near Aleppo

It is believed Jabhat al-Nusra fighters took the pilot back to their headquarters

Serina Sandhu
Tuesday 05 April 2016 12:21
Pilot parachutes to the ground after warplane shot down by Syrian rebels near Aleppo

The pilot of a Syrian warplane shot down by rebels south of Aleppo has been captured, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said.

The plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile and caught fire before falling in the Talat al-Iss highland, according to the group. The aircraft, reportedly a Su-22, had been on a reconnaissance mission, Syria's military confirmed.

It was not immediately clear which group was responsible for shooting down the plane.

In video footage that purports to show what happened after the plane crash, the pilot uses a parachute to land on the ground.

He was then captured by Jabhat al-Nusra, which has links to militant group al-Qaeda. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, fighters took the pilot to their headquarters nearby.

Sputnik News reported that a source said: “Militants have downed a warplane, which had been on a combat duty in the province of Aleppo.”

Other footage, that also purports to show the plane, has captured the aircraft in a plume of smoke before it crashes to the ground in flames.

None of the videos, circulating on social media, have been independently verified.

It was initially unclear whether the plane was Russian or Syrian. But the Russian Defense Ministry said its military aviation had not been near the area of the crash on Tuesday, according to TASS news agency.

Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told reporters: "'Russian Aerospace Forces' aviation did not perform any military tasks in the city of Aleppo or around it."

The Syrian army has used warplanes in their battle against rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. However, several government-backed planes have been shot down since civil war erupted in Syria five years ago.

Rebels and Jabhat al-Nusra took control of Talat al-Iss hill, near where the plane is believed to have crashed, on Friday. Although a "cessation of hostilities" truce has been in place in Syria for more than one month, it does not include Jabhat al-Nusra.

Additional reporting by agencies

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