لإhe wreckage of a Syrian warplane after Nusra fighters shot it down. Photo: AFP
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ALEPPO – Amid continued fighting between rebel factions and Syrian regime’s army, Islamist fighters of the Nusra Front (Syria’s branch of al-Qaeda) shot down a regime warplane in Syria’s northern province of Aleppo, local sources reported on Tuesday.
Speaking to ARA News in Aleppo, rebel spokesman Mustafa Suleiman said that the Nusra rebels were able to down a pro-regime warplane [Sukhoi 22] after targeting it with a ground-to-air rocket in the area between the towns of Kafr Halab and al-Kamara south of the province.
“The rebels [Nusra militants] were able to capture a Syrian pilot after he parachuted,” he reported.
Also, local activists confirmed that the pro-regime air force conducted several raids on the towns of al-Eis and al-Banes, which have been witnessing fierce battles between the Nusra and the Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham on the one hand, and the pro-Assad forces and allied militias on the other.
The Syrian army has been combatting insurgents for years. However, it has taken a major advantage of its air force against opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
ARA News could not verify the death toll among the Nusra militants in Tuesday’s airstrikes.
In the meantime, the Nusra insurgents launched an offensive on the outskirts of the Hader and Banjira hill amid artillery shelling on the outskirts of al-Eis–a strategic town in Aleppo province.
No party has reported gains at the expense of the other, according to locals.
Additionally, pro-regime forces stationed in the southern districts of Aleppo launched missiles on the town of al-Zirba and Hirsh Khan Touman. No casualties reported.
The al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front is considered a terrorist group by the US and Russia; it is not party to the ceasefire, that has been activated since February 27, between Syrian army forces and moderate rebels.
Syrian army mobilized a large number of soldiers to the al-Hader town in a bid to recapture the areas it lost to the Islamist factions in southern Aleppo.
Noteworthy, Islamist rebels had downed another regime warplane last month over the village of Kafr Nabuda in Syria’s central province of Hama.
Reporting by: Taim Khalil
Source: ARA News