Two Syrian rebel groups shot down a warplane in southern Syria on Tuesday, the groups announced in a joint statement. The shooting took place over territory belonging to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and came dangerously close to a cease-fire zone brokered last week by the U.S. and Russia. The ceasefire, which went into effect on Sunday, applies to the Daraa, Quneitra, and Sweida regions in southern Syria. On Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based war monitor, confirmed that rebels downed a government plane near a village bordering Sweida and Damascus.
“The plane was shot down and crashed in regime-controlled territory. We have no information on the pilot,” said Fares al-Munjed, the head of communications for Ahmad al-Abdo, one of the rebel groups. Both Ahmad al-Abdo and the other group responsible for the shooting, Lions of the East Army, belong to a coalition of rebel forces known as the Free Syrian Army. For more than six years, Syrian rebels—some of them backed by Turkey and the U.S.—have been embroiled in a massive civil war with Assad regime. Since the beginning of the war in 2011, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed and more than half of Syria’s population—around 11 million people—have been displaced.