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03:16 PM, August 16, 2017
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Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 supersonic jet fighter

Syrian rebels have claimed that they shot down MiG-21 Syrian military jet using 23-millimetre anti-aircraft gun on Tuesday and captured its pilot in a desert area in southern Syria near the border with Jordan.

The group of Syrian rebels Ahmad al-Abdo Forces shot down the Syrian government MiG-21, the group's communications head Fares al-Munjed was quoted as saying by various media Tuesday.

"The pilot is in our hands. He is injured and being treated," Munjed said.

"The rebel faction had shot down the plane and captured its wounded pilot," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitor, confirmed.

The rebel group shot down the plane near Wadi Mahmud in the southern province of Sweida. Sweida province was not included in a US-Russian brokered ceasefire that took effect in nearby areas of the southwest in July. Days after the deal went into effect, the Ahmad al-Abdo Forces hit a Syrian government jet but it landed safely in government-controlled territory.

Munjed said his group had used a "23-millimetre anti-aircraft gun" to down the warplane. "We will take care to treat the captured pilot in accordance with international law," he said. The rebel group's leadership was still debating what would happen to the pilot after his treatment, he said.

The eastern countryside of Sweida province borders Jordan in a front where the Syrian army, alongside Iranian-backed militias, had established control last Thursday over checkpoints and border posts.

Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels who get support from a command room in Jordan run by Arab and Western backers of the insurgency say fighting continues in the area to try to regain lost ground.They blamed recent losses on the sudden retreat by a Jordanian-backed tribal militia known as Jaish al-Ashair that had patrolled the border area.

This had allowed the army to quickly overrun the border posts and establish a presence in a border strip abandoned in the early years of the conflict.

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