A fighter jet has crashed near the Iraq border, prompting quick reactions online about what exactly brought down the MiG-23.
According to the Associated Press, the Syria state media said that the crash was due to a “technical failure” while the jet was on a “routine training mission.”
The BBC reports that members of the Free Syrian Army claim that they shot a military plane down in the same area.
This footage posted on YouTube shows a MiG-23 aircraft exploding into flames in the air, following the sound of gunfire in the background.
A few hours after the incident, another video was posted online, which claims to show the pilot of the downed MiG-23.
The Washington Post cannot independently confirm the veracity of these videos.
According to a transcript posted online, the pilot introduces himself as Pilot Mohamed Suleiman, who says he was ordered to attack Deir Al-Zour. Here is the full transcript of the video, translated by the Post’s Ahmed Ramadan:
I’m Captain Abu Laith the brigade commander of “Ahfad Muhammad MPBUH”. Today, Monday 13th of August 2012, we shot down a MiG 23 fighter jet in the city of Mohassen in the province of Deir Al-Zour. The jet fell at the hands of the champions of the brigade of “Ahfad Muhammad MPBUH”. The jet was shot down by the hero Abu Allawi, (points at man in the middle), who is a among the heroes of the Uthman ibn Affan Battalion, which is led by Lieutenant Abu Abbas Sabawi (points to man on the right). The champions of “Ahrar Al-Forat” battalion captured the pilot in the area of Bo’arab city, under the command of Abu Ali Al-Omari (points to man on left). This operation is dedicated to the spirit of the martyr leader Abu Qutaiba Al-Hakeem and the lives of all the martyrs of the Syrian revolution. Introduce yourself (points to alleged pilot):
Pilot: I am captain pilot Mofeed Mohamed Suleiman.
FSA: What was your mission today?
Pilot: Our mission was to bomb the city of Mohassan today.
FSA: What do you say to the other army officers following al-Assad?
Pilot: I tell them to defect away from that gang.
FSA: Why do you have bruises on your face?
Pilot: It’s because when the jet exploded, I was ejected and the strong air hit me causing me to hit the ground and my parachute dragged me on the rocks.
FSA: How did the Free Syrian Army treat you?
Pilot: They treated my wounds; helped me, and took good care of me.
FSA: Of course, this pilot will be treated according to the way our religion and our ethics calls upon us to treat the captive people. Also, according to our commitment to the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war. God is great, and May He bless the victory of our revolution.
If the rebels’ claim is true, this would be the first time since the uprising that a government fighter plane has been downed by the rebels.
Last week, the New York Times’ C. J. Chivers wrote that a photograph posted by an activist on Facebook showed a complete SA-7 system, which indicated that the anti-government forces had obtained an anti-aircraft missile. See the photograph below.
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