Syria: FSA rebels claim to have “shot down warplane”
Syrian rebels have produced footage of a man they claim is the captured pilot of a fighter jet that went down in the east of the country.
The rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) say they shot a military aircraft down near the Iraqi border.
But state media say the plane crashed because of “technical problems” and a search is under way to find the pilot.
Syria is facing suspension from the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation because of its handling of the crisis.
On the eve of an emergency summit called by Saudi Arabia, foreign ministers meeting for preparatory talks in Jeddah backed a resolution despite objections from President Assad’s ally, Iran.
Confirmation of Syria’s suspension is expected later this week.
The aircraft was shot down near the town of al-Muhassan, around 120km (75 miles) from the Iraqi border in Deir al-Zour province, the rebels say.
A group calling itself the “Revolutionary Youth of the Land of the Euphrates” uploaded a video to YouTube purporting to show the captured pilot surrounded by three armed rebels, saying that his mission was to “bomb the town of al-Muhassan”.
In the video, which cannot be independently verified, the seemingly middle-aged man identifies himself as a pilot, Col Fareer Mohammad Suleiman. He appears to have minor bruising to his face which he attributes to the plane crash.
In other footage provided by the rebels, what appears to be a Russian-built MiG-23 fighter jet is shown carrying two under-wing weapons pods thought to be loaded with air-to-ground missiles.
Anti-aircraft fire can be heard before the jet bursts into flames.
Rebel gunners are then heard on the footage celebrating.
The BBC’s Kevin Connolly, in neighbouring Lebanon, says that if the rebels have succeeded in downing a MiG-23, it would be a significant moment in the conflict.
if they indeed shot down a plane that means they have better weapons now provided by another country..which country?