Syrian Army Intensifies Attacks on Al-Nusra after Militants Down Syrian Jet in Hama
The warplanes launched heavy airstrikes on Al-Nusra positions in the villages and towns of Boyouzd, Janineh, al-Rahjan, al-Sakar and al-Malwalah in Eastern Hama.
The air attacks further expanded to the villages and towns of Abu Dali, al-Zoweitiniyeh and al-Hamdaniyeh in Northeastern Hama.
Also, the army’s artillery and missile units shelled Al-Nusra’s position s in Northern Hama.
Field sources said a large number of terrorists were killed or wounded and several positions and a large volume military equipment were destroyed in the attacks.
Reports said earlier today that a Syrian military jet has been shot down by militants in Hama province, the Syrian state broadcaster confirmed, adding that a pilot was killed in the attack.
“The military aircraft crashed in the vicinity of Hama after it was shot down by terrorists; the pilot was killed,” the Syrian state-run SANA news agency quoted a source as saying. The plane, identified as an L-39 Albatros jet trainer, was shot down by terrorists’ anti-aircraft machineguns, a source within the Syrian opposition told massdar news.
It was not immediately clear which militant group was responsible for the attack, but the so-called Free Idlib Army, an offshoot of the Free Syrian Army, claimed responsibility on social media and in a statement to Turkish Anadolu news agency. Reuters also reported that Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, had also claimed responsibility.
A video later emerged, purportedly showing the aircraft pilot’s dead body lying in the back of a truck, with blood around his neck. The footage appears to show a body surrounded by a group of armed men, who are described in the Telegram channel Directorate 4 as members of Jeish al-Nukhba, a militant group based in Idlib and Hama.
The identity of the pilot has not been officially confirmed, but Directorate 4, which monitors rebel activity in Syria, named the slain pilot as Basim Hasan, a native of the city of Homs.
A second pilot may also have been in the aircraft, although his fate is still unknown, Reuters reported.