Syrian rebels said Monday they had shot down a MiG 23 fighter aircraft in eastern Syria. The report was confirmed by a military source in Damascus, who however attributed the incident to a technical failure. An insurgent group claimed to have captured the pilot of the fighter and showed him in a video posted on the internet calling his comrades to defect.
The rebels celebrated the shooting down of the airplane – the first since the beginning of the rebellion 17 months ago.
The spokesman of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) Saadeddine Kassem, confirmed that its anti0aircraft units had shot down the warplane o in the eastern region of Deir Ezzor. An amateur video posted by militants on Youtube shows the plane on fire. “A Mig was shot in the city of Mouhassan”, 400 km east of Damascus, an unidentified man shouted.
A military source quoted by the official SANA news agency attributed the fall of the jet fighter to a “technical failure,” requiring the pilot to eject.
Meanwhile, the Syrian army, using tanks and armored, entered into Seif al-Dawla, a rebel-stronghold in Aleppo, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
The army last week launched a ground offensive on another part of Aleppo – Salaheddin district, which was the first taken by the rebels. The Syrian regime largely controls the area although there are still pockets of resistance.
In old Damascus, security services have arrested 22 people and searched a cemetery in search of weapons. The sounds of gunfire were heard, according to the SOHR.
“The General Committee of the Syrian Revolution” indicated that “security forces have broken the doors of the shops WHICH were closed” in order to force the owners to stop their protest strike against the regime.
Clashes also took place in the rebel town of Harasta, northeast of the capital, as well as in Deir Ezzor and several rebel-held towns in the region close to Iraq.
At Palmyra, in the center of the country, the army, supported by helicopters, carried out bombing against FSA targets.
In a first preliminary assessment by the SOHR, 5O people died Monday, including 28 civilians. On the day before, the violence in Syria had killed 146 people, according to the same source.