The Free Syria Army rebel group claims to have hit a state helicopter near the strategically important city of Aleppo. Amateur video uploaded to the Internet purports to show the aircraft falling from the sky near the Mannagh air base, north of the city.
“In the name of God the merciful, we have managed to surround Mannagh for two months and today we downed a helicopter with a rocket. We will impose a no-fly zone over the air base until we take control of it,” said a Free Syria Army fighter in the area.
Losing control of the base would be a major setback for President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, which are struggling to push back an armed rebellion that began in 2011.
Anti-government activists report that a second state aircraft was struck down by rebels in the outskirts of Aleppo.
The Syrian Observatory for Human rights, an NGO that aims to report casualties on both sides of the conflict, says at least 13 rebels and five regime fighters have died in the Aleppo area since February 23.