Syrian military helicopter crashes, crew captured

2015-03-22 22:08

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Beirut - Syrian insurgents captured several government airmen after their helicopter crashed in a rebel-held area of northwestern Syria on Sunday, activists said.

The Idlib Media Centre and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the helicopter went down near Jabal al-Zawiya, some 10km north of the town of Maarat al-Numan in Idlib province.

The aircraft experienced a technical malfunction and made an emergency crash-landing, according to the Observatory.

Opposition fighters, including from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, took four crew members prisoner, Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman said. Another airman survived the crash but was reportedly killed by his captors, and the fate of a suspected sixth airman is unknown, Abdurrahman said.

An amateur video posted online showed rebels inspecting the wreckage of the helicopter, which had rolled onto its side on a rocky hill. The aircraft's blue undercarriage was partially torn and the nose badly damaged.

The video appeared genuine and corresponded to other Associated Press reporting.

The Syrian military frequently uses helicopters to drop crude barrel bombs - giant canisters packed with hundreds of pounds of explosives and scrap metal - on rebel-held towns and neighbourhoods.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  syria  |  syria conflict

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