Syrian warplane crashes in southern province

Damascus, June 11 (IANS) A Syrian war jet crashed on Thursday on the outskirts of the southern province of Swaida, a monitor group reported.

The plane crashed over the Najran area in the western countryside of Swaida, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the plane was hit by rebels or crashed as a result of a malfunction, the Britain-based watchdog group said.

The fate of the plane’s crew remains unknown, said the group, which relies on a network of activists on the ground inside Syria.

Meanwhile, a video clip purporting to show a plane falling from the sky and hitting the ground, was circulated online by rebels, Xinhua news agency reported.

The western countryside of Swaida, a predominantly Druze province, has been under threat from militant groups who captured the Brigade 52 base on the outskirts of the adjacent Daraa province.

SOHR said intense clashes continued till dawn on Thursday between jihadi groups and the Syrian army near al-Tha’la, an airbase in western Swaida.

The Druze minority, along with other minority groups in Syria, has emerged as supporters of President Bashar al-Assad, fearing the expansion of radical jihadi groups that showed no tolerance for minority groups in Syria.

On Wednesday, at least 20 Syrian Druze were killed when the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front opened fire at a group of civilians in a town in the northwestern province of Idilb, SOHR, Syrian media said.

The incident marked the first instance where the Druze people were directly targeted by jihadis.

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