Jihadists down regime plane, detain pilot in northwest Syria

BEIRUT: Jihadists on Wednesday downed a regime plane flying over northwest Syria as it took part in a deadly military campaign against the region and took the pilot prisoner, a monitor said.

The warplane was shot down near the jihadist-held town of Khan Sheikhun in the south of Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“The pilot has been taken prisoner” and is in the hands of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham jihadist group running the Idlib region, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The Britain-based monitor said that it was the first such downing of a regime plane since the aerial campaign of the jihadist-run bastion began in late April.

Since then the regime and its Russian ally have upped their bombardment of the Idlib region, killing 820 civilians and causing hundreds of thousands to flee.

Regime forces have now advanced to within a few kilometres (miles) of Khan Sheikhun, a strategic town which lies on a key highway.

Eight years into Syria‘s civil war, the Idlib region is the last major stronghold of opposition to President Bashar al-Assad‘s regime.

The HTS alliance, which is led by Syria‘s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, has been in charge of that region since the start of the year.