Syria rebels 'down fighter jet' in Idlib province

Footage on al-Arabiya TV shows what appears to be smoke in the sky and a person parachuting - This footage has not been independently verified

Unconfirmed reports say Syrian rebels have shot down an air force fighter jet in the north-western province of Idlib.

Amateur footage broadcast by Arabic satellite TV stations of the purported incident showed smoke billowing and two figures parachuting to the ground.

Opposition sources also said 20 people, including eight children, were killed as security forces bombarded Idlib.

Meanwhile, a rights group alleged that Syrian forces may be targeting civilians queuing for bread in Aleppo.

The UN Security Council is set to meet on Thursday to discuss the humanitarian situation in Syria.

But according to reports, the US, Russia and China will be absent from the meeting of foreign ministers from council member nations, making decisive action unlikely to result.

'Allahu Akbar'

In the footage of the apparent downing of the plane shown on al-Arabiya satellite station, smoke billows in the sky and then pilots are seen parachuting down to the ground.

Syria: The story of the conflict

Burning image of President Assad

How anti-government protests have led to a bloody internal conflict which is tearing a nation apart

Meanwhile, celebrating rebels shout "Allahu Akbar" (God is great). The video's authenticity cannot be verified.

The news agency AFP later quoted the head of the rebel military council in Idlib as saying the two pilots had been captured.

The identity of the rebels behind the purported attack is unclear, with the video's narrator saying the rebels come from the Syrian Martyrs' Brigade and al-Arabiya suggesting they are from the Free Syrian Army.

In recent weeks, the Syrian rebels say they have shot down another fighter jet and a helicopter gunship.

The UK-based opposition activist group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said on Thursday that 20 people, including eight children and nine women, were killed in bombardments by security forces in the Abu al-Zohur area of Idlib.

It said the bombardment was in response to rebel attacks.

The reports of casualties cannot be independently verified.

Separately, the director of the main hospital used to treat security personnel has told AFP he estimates more than 8,000 members of the security forces have died since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011.

The director, a doctor who also holds the rank of general, works at the Tishrin facility in Damascus and spoke on condition of anonymity. His estimates cannot be independently confirmed.

A wounded Syrian army soldier rests on a bed at Damascus's Tishrin military hospital on Thursday The director of Tishrin military hospital, shown here, estimates 8,000 security personnel have been killed

"I estimate that at least 8,000 soldiers and members of the security forces have been killed since the beginning of the crisis," the director told AFP.

"Every day, we receive an average of 15 to 20 bodies of soldiers and members of security forces, with the numbers increasing since the beginning of the year," he was quoted as saying.

He said about 60% of victims were killed by gunfire, 35% in explosions including anti-tank rockets, while 5% were "slaughtered or beheaded".

The UN estimates that overall, more than 18,000 people have died in the conflict since it began.

'Recklessly indiscriminate'

Clashes were said to be continuing elsewhere in the country on Thursday, with activists reporting pre-dawn fighting in the eastern suburbs of the capital, Damascus.

Activists also said fierce fighting was continuing in the bitterly contested commercial city of Aleppo.

Meanwhile, US-based group Human Rights Watch allege that Syrian government forces have killed civilians queueing for bread in Aleppo province.

It said the attacks on or near at least 10 bakeries in the last three weeks are "recklessly indiscriminate" and "suggest that government forces have been targeting civilians" - both war crimes.

One attack on 16 August killed up to 60 people, while another on 21 August killed at least 23, Human Rights Watch says.

More on This Story

Syria conflict

More Middle East stories

RSS

Features

  • Shinji Mikamo's father's watchTime peace

    The story of the watch that survived Hiroshima


  • A man hangs a Catalan flag at his balcony near Barcelona in 2013Caledonia homage

    Who are the Europeans with an eye on the Scottish referendum?


  • Elephant Diaries - BBCGoing wild

    Wildlife film-makers reveal the tricks of the trade


  • Hamas rally in the West Bank village of Yatta, 2006Hamas hopes

    Why the Palestinian group won't back down yet


  • A woman dining aloneTable for one

    The restaurants that love solo diners


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.