Syrian Rebels Claim MiG Shootdown

Syrian rebels said on Monday they had shot down a government MiG-23 fighter jet in the east of the country.

Rebels from the Free Syrian Army operating near the city of Deir az Zour posted video footage on YouTube showing a plane apparently being hit by an antiaircraft gun, catching fire and falling to the ground.

There has been no independent confirmation or comment from the Syrian government.

According to an Israel Radio report and Syrian opposition sources, the Free Syrian Army captured the downed pilot.

Previously, the rebels have repeatedly claimed to have shot down government helicopters, but provided no evidence.

The Syrian conflict has claimed between 14,000 and 20,000 lives since March 2011, according to estimates by various opposition groups and the UN. The West is pushing for President Bashar al-Assad's ouster, while Russia and China are trying to prevent foreign intervention in the country, claiming the Assad regime and the opposition are both to blame for the bloodshed.

[Source: Ria Novosti, Moscow, 13Aug12]

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