August 27, 2012–Rebels in Damascus say they have shot down a Syrian helicopter over the capital today. The chopper had been shooting at people in the northeastern district of Jobar, and it crashed in nearby Qabun.
State television confirmed the Free Syrian Army’s story. Amateur video of the aircraft going down engulfed in flames was available on the internet this morning.
Activists said the helicopter was bombarding Jobar in the midst of heavy fighting between rebels and government forces.
Witnesses declared seeing the chopper burst in flames as it was hit by a projectile. The chopper crashed in a residential street in Qabun.
“It [had been] flying overhead and firing all morning,” said Abu Bakr, a militant sympathizer. “The rebels have been trying to hit it for about an hour, and finally they did.”
On the video, the helicopter is seen falling out of the sky while rebels shout “Allahu Akbar (God is greatest).”
The Free Syrian Army also claims to have shot down a Mig-23 jet fighter on August 13 over the eastern province of Deir al-Zour.
Omar al-Qabuni, a spokesman for the FSA’s Badr Batallion in Damascus, said the helicopter shot-down was revenge for the massacre in Darayya.
The aircraft seems to have been part of an effort by the government to retake key areas of Damascus, and heavy fighting is said to have been erupted after the shot-down.
Massacre in Darayya Opposition activists said on Sunday that government forces massacred 300 people while carrying out an assault on the south western suburb of Darayya.
Footage and photos have emerged showing scores of bodies, many of women and children. But state media blamed the rebels for the slayings and said that Darayya has been “cleansed of terrorist remnants.”
Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN Human Rights Council Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told the BBC the killing may constitute a war crime.