A Syrian government fighter jet was shot down by rebels in Idlib province as Russian-backed government forces invaded a strategically important city during an attack on the last stronghold of the opposition.
Hay & # 39; et Tahrir al-Sham, the region's most powerful armed group, said Wednesday that their fighters fired a Sukhoi 22 jet launched from a Syrian air base in Homs province.
did not say how the plane was shot down.
Muhammad Rashid of the Nasir Army, a faction of the Idlib National Liberation Front, told the Anadolu Agency that the anti-aircraft missile was flying over the city of Al-Tamanah in southern Idlib.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights a UK-based observer reporting on the war through a network of local sources said that heavy machine guns had been used.
According to the Observatory, a pilot who had dropped out of the plane was captured.
The Syrian state news agency SANA quoted a Syrian military source as confirming that a government fighter plane in Idlib was being shot down by rebels. The source said the fate of the pilot was unknown.
Khan Sheikhoun Push
The jet was shot near Khan Sheikhoun, a rebel-held city hit by a sarcastic attack two years ago and now targeted in the Moscow-sponsored government offensive.
Also on Wednesday, pro-government forces conquered new areas of rebels near Khan Sheikhoun and moved to within a few miles of the city, which has been in opposition hands since 201
A rebel commander told Reuters news agency Khan Sheikhoun was in "great danger."
The poison gas attack that prompted US President Donald Trump to assassinate Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017 killed dozens of people in a rocket attack on the Syrian Air Force base from which Washington had announced the gas attack.
An investigation by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found that the Syrian government was responsible for the release of Sarin in the city on April 4, 2017. Damascus denies the use of such weapons.
The UN said last week that fighting in northwestern Syria is threatening the lives of millions of people, warning them of the situation of "being out of control".
N Half of the three million people living in Idlib have already been expelled from the war in other parts of the devastated country, including more than a million children.
Since the government offensive began in late April, over 500 civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces had sought to make a profit in the region, but since the collapse of a brief ceasefire this month, they have managed to take several significant positions, including the City al-Habeet on Saturday.
The advance towards Khan Sheikhoun threatens to encircle the last remaining area of rebel-held territory in the neighboring province of Hama, including the cities of Morek, Kafr Zeita and Latamneh.
On July 30, after the 10th of the 15th, members of the United Nations Security Council issued a demarche. The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, approved an investigation into attacks on civilian infrastructure including hospitals, clinics and schools. The investigation will investigate whether GPS coordinates provided by the United Nations to ensure the protection of hospitals actually used for their alignment.
Al Jazeera and news agencies