Rebels shoot down fighter jet in Syria

Sat, Sep 22, 2012, 01:00

Rebel fighters trying to oust president Bashar al-Assad shot down a fighter jet as it flew over the northern Syrian town of Atarib in Idlib province, a witness said.

The witness, an independent journalist who asked to remain anonymous, said rebel fighters were attacking a military base near the town when the jet flew over and rebels shot it down with anti-aircraft guns.

Vastly outgunned, rebels say they need surface-to-air missiles to take down planes and helicopters used by the Syrian military to bombard opposition strongholds.

Fighters use outdated anti-aircraft machine guns that are welded to pickup trucks but they are inaccurate and useless if the military aircraft fly above a certain altitude.

On August 27th fighters shot down a helicopter on the outskirts of Damascus and three days later rebels said they had brought down a jet in Idlib, near the Turkish border.

Activists say more than 27,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the 18-month-old revolt in Syria, which began with peaceful street protests that provoked a military crackdown and mushroomed into civil war.

Despite calling for Assad to step down, the West is wary of arming disparate rebel groups.Activists say more than 27,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the 18-month-old revolt.

The rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), the most prominent of several armed groups fighting to overthrow Mr Assad, said today it has moved its leadership from Turkey to parts of Syria that are now controlled by rebels.

Although rebels are now in control of large swathes of the country, they face aerial and artillery attack from Syrian forces.

"The leadership of the FSA has entered the liberated areas (of Syria) after the success of the plan that the FSA has worked on with other
battalions and units in order to safeguard the free areas," Colonel Riad al-Asaad said in a video statement.