Syrian rebel fighters on Monday claimed they were responsible for downing a government fighter jet and uploaded footage purportedly of the jet pilot, but the regime said the plane went down due to a “technical failure.”
The jet, according to state-run television quoting a military source, suffered the technical problem during an “ordinary training flight over the eastern” part of Syria. The pilot has not been found and a search is underway.
Video footage uploaded apparently by rebel fighters shows a plane getting hit amid heavy gunfire. “A MiG plane has been hit in the town of Muhasen!” a voice screams in the video, which is said to have been filmed in the city of Deir ez-Zor, located in eastern Syria.
The original footage shows the jet flying through the sky amid the sounds of gunfire before bursting into flames and then began to twist around, emitting a plume of smoke. Other video footage uploaded later showed the plane crashing into the ground, with smoke arising from the wreckage.
Later footage shows several men, some clad in camouflage, holding rifles and standing around a man said to be the captured pilot of the jet fighter.
“Footage of the captured fighter pilot, Colonel Mohammed Suleiman, who was taken captive by the rebels after his MIG was shot down,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
It added: “Eye witnesses confirmed that a MIG fighter jet has been downed from the skies of the city of Muhassan” near Deir ez-Zor “while it was bombarding the area.”
“Activists reported that the jet was destroyed by a 14.5 [millimeter machine gun fire] while it was flying low,” the rights organization said, added the “rebel fighter responsible was identified as Mohamad al-A’lawi.”
However, it is not clear when the footage was filmed.
The plane’s camouflage and markings are in line with the Syrian air force’s planes, experts told the BBC.
The Free Syrian Army told the broadcaster that one of the two-man crew piloting the plane died but the other was captured.
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