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Nusra downs Syrian plane and captures pilot: Report

Video circulated on social media reportedly shows pilot being captured near al-Eis by militants from al-Qaeda affiliate
Wreckage of the plane in a field outside al-Eis (Youtube)

Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate shot down a government warplane over the town of al-Eis in northern Syria on Tuesday and captured one crew member alive, a rebel source and a monitoring group said. 

The rebel source said it was "likely that the Nusra Front shot down the plane and took the pilot," adding that the plane had been hit by heavy machinegun fire. 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Nusra downed the plane, which it said was being flown by a Syrian air force pilot.

The al-Qaeda affiliate is not party to the ceasefire between government forces and mainstream rebels brokered by the United States and Russia that has been in place since 27 February.

On Friday, Nusra and its allies pushed government loyalists out of al-Eis, a strategic town in Aleppo province.

In video footage circulated on social media purporting to show the scene where the plane came down, a dozen men crowd around a man lying in the dirt.

Some of them cry: "He's Syrian, he's Syrian!" and others yell: "Get his weapons off him!" 

Another video showed wreckage from the jet smouldering in a field.

AFP could not confirm the authenticity of the footage, although the Storyful news service corroborated the wreckage video as being from al-Eis. 

Last month, militant rebels shot down a government warplane over the village of Kafr Nabuda in the central province of Hama.

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