Syria rebels claim downing of helicopter

2012-08-27 12:01
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube shows a burning Syrian combat helicopter crashing as fierce fighting reportedly gripped east of the capital Damascus. (YouTube, AFP)

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube shows a burning Syrian combat helicopter crashing as fierce fighting reportedly gripped east of the capital Damascus. (YouTube, AFP)

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Damascus - A rebel Free Syrian Army group claimed it had shot down an army helicopter in Damascus on Monday and that the pilot had been killed, a spokesperson said.

"It was in revenge for the Daraya massacre," Omar al-Qabooni, a spokesperson for the Badr Battalion in Damascus said via Skype, referring to the reported killing of at least 320 people in a town southwest of Damascus during a five-day government offensive.

He said the rebels had found the body of the pilot after the burning aircraft crashed to the ground in the district of Qaboon during heavy shelling and fierce fighting in the area.

State television said a helicopter crashed without giving more information.

An anti-regime activist who identified herself as Alexia also said via Skype: "It was the Free Syrian Army for sure."

Hundreds of bodies

The claims could not be independently verified.

Syrian rebels claimed to have shot down a warplane on 13 August in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it believed the helicopter "was hit while it was being used in fighting nearby".

It reported clashes between troops and the FSA in several areas of Damascus, including Qaboon and the neighbouring district of Jubar - where anti-regime sentiment is strong - and several nearby towns east of the city.

The violence flared a day after the Observatory reported the discovery of hundreds of bodies in Daraya after what opposition militants said was a "massacre" by government troops.

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