At least a dozen people have died after a Syrian government fighter jet crashed into a busy market in the northwestern Idlib province. Activists have said scores of mostly civilians were injured.
The Syrian military jet came down in a residential area in the rebel-held town of Ariha on Monday, killing at least 12 people and wounding dozens more, activists said.
Rami Abdurrahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there had been heavy bombing by forces loyal to embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the time of the crash.
An amateur video posted online by activists appeared to show several damaged buildings as well as wreckage from the plane. There was no immediate response from the Syrian army, and it was not clear whether the aircraft crashed due to a mechanical failure or because it was shot down.
Ariha was a government stronghold up until it was overrun by insurgents in late May on the back of a series of government losses in the northwest of the country. The town, as well as much of the Idlib province, is now controlled by the al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front and a number of other hardline Islamist militias. Idlib lies on Syria’s border with Turkey and is adjacent to the regime-controlled Latakia region on the Mediterranean coast. Since being driven back, Assad’s forces have had to rely on aerial bombardment to attack rebel-held towns.
The al-Nusra Front is a major force against Assad’s army in the northern city of Aleppo. Its fighters have also occupied several parts of the country’s south and frequently clash with the Islamic State.
Syria’s civil war has been raging for more than four years. More than 220,000 people have died in the conflict, according to the United Nations.
nm/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)