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Syrian fighter jet crashes (VIDEO)

Syrian rebels claim to have shot down the fighter jet; the regime blames technical problems.

Damascus protestors Enlarge
Demonstrators raise their arms as Syrian opposition flags are seen during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus July 16, 2012. (Reuters)

A Syrian fighter jet was shot down on Monday, amidst conflicting reports from rebels and the regime as to the cause of the plane's crash.

State-run news channel Syria TV said the plane crashed due to technical problems during a "regular training mission" and that a search and rescue team had been sent out to look for the pilot, Reuters reported.

However, rebels from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) told reporters that they shot down the aircraft near the Iraq border, and had captured the pilot alive, according to BBC News

"Allahu Akbar! (God is greatest)," cries an unidentified man in a video released by the anti-Assad Local Coordination Committees, Al Jazeera reported. "A MiG plane has been hit in the town of Muhasen," in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

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“It’s a big operation, a big blow to the regime,” said Abu Rawan, a commander with the Free Syrian Army, the New York Times reported.

“It means the FSA is strong and because we can down these kinds of planes, we can institute a no fly-zone without international support.”

However, it is not clear in the video what the cause of the explosion is, and no missile can be clearly seen. 

The rebels claims have yet to be independently verified, but if confirmed, this would be the first time that the FSA will have successfully downed a state aircraft, and also would mean they had likely acquired ground-to-air missiles, according to Al Jazeera. 

The Assad regime has turned to its air power to try to crush the 17-month uprising in recent months, Ha'aretz reported

On Monday, a government spokesperson said the regime was open to talks with the rebels to end the conflict, according to Ha'aretz. 

"The government of Bashar Assad welcomes logical discussions with opposition groups in Syria. The main condition is that these discussions take place under the supervision of the president," Ambassador Hamed Hassan said, according to Iran's state news agency IRNA.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/120813/syrian-fighter-jet-crashes-video