A Syrian government fighter jet has been shot down by rebels in Idlib province, as Russia-backed government forces closed in on a strategically important town during a push on the last opposition stronghold. A Russian pilot was killed in the incident.
The Fatah al-Mubin — joint operations room of the opposition and anti-regime armed groups — said that the regime was trying to hit rural parts of northern Hama and southern Idlib with the Su-22 warplane.
A pilot who ejected from the plane was captured, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The source said that the fate of the pilot remained unknown.
The Syrian regime later confirmed the incident.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitor which reports on the war using a network of sources on the ground, said heavy machine guns had been used.
The government has stepped up its offensive in the region in recent months. Hundreds of civilians have been killed, and hundreds of thousands more driven from their homes.
Syria’s government, backed by Russia, is trying to recapture the region from rebels
Civilian areas have been hit frequently since the Syrian government and Russia intensified their attacks earlier this year in response to what they said were repeated truce violations by jihadists linked to al-Qaeda, who dominate the region..