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Beirut (AFP) Dec 3, 2012
Syrian rebel fighters on Monday shot down a MiG warplane in Damascus province that had been bombing rebel strongholds, activists said.
Details of the incident were scarce and there was no immediate confirmation from the Syrian authorities.
"The Free Syrian Army shot down a warplane between Dumeir and Rahiybeh, which had been bombing cities and towns in Eastern Ghuta," the Local Coordination Committees, a network of opposition activists on the ground, reported.
Syrian activist Omar Shakir confirmed the account.
"The rebels shot down a MiG near Dumeir and now they are looking for the pilot," he told AFP by phone.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a watchdog that relies on a network of activists and medics, said reports had been received that an army aircraft was shot down near Dumeir, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Damascus.
Since the end of July, the Syrian regime has relied on fighter jets to try to suppress a growing insurgency. The air force has regularly carried out air strikes on Eastern Ghuta, in an attempt to dislodge rebels from their rear bases in the orchards on the outskirts of the capital.
But outgunned rebels last week for the first time used surface-to-air missiles to strike down two aircraft in northern Syria in a 24-hour period.
"If the Syrian air force starts losing several aircraft every day, that will be a significant turning point because the regime will lose its superiority and will no longer be able to use its main means of delivering strong fire power effectively," said military analyst Riad Kahwaji.
Air strike kills 12 in Syrian border town: watchdog
Among the dead were four civilians and eight rebels, the Britain-based watchdog said.
"The warplane hit the Mahata district in the southwestern part of the town. This area is controlled by the (jihadist) Al-Nusra Front, Ghuraba al-Sham and other rebel battalions," the Observatory's Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP by phone.
The northeastern sector of the town, located in the mainly Kurdish province of Hasakeh, is controlled by Kurdish militias, he noted.
"A MIG aircraft made two consecutive bombing raids around 10:15 am (0815 GMT)," a Ras al-Ain activist who identified himself as Hevidar told AFP over the Internet.
"These led to the death of nine civilians, including a child, not more than eight years old... and many of the wounded civilians were transported to hospitals in Turkey," said Hevidar.
Many people who had recently returned to the town after being displaced during previous violence were forced to flee once again across the border, he added.
In unverified video footage posted on the Internet by activists, a group of men wearing coats are seen lifting pulling bloodied and limp bodies from beneath a pile of steel and other collapsed building materials.
A fire can be seen blazing in the background as the men load the bodies into the back of a truck.
Ras al-Ain was the scene of fierce clashes between fighters loyal to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) -- which has close ties to Turkey's rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) -- and the Al-Nusra Front and Ghuraba al-Sham in late November.
The Observatory, which relies on a network of activists, lawyers and medics, later reported that clashes had died down after the two parties managed to strike an agreement.
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