Islamist rebels capture pilot shot down in Syria

Syria's military says the plane was on a reconnaissance mission

Syria, pilot, captured, Islamist rebels, Al Nusra Front, military,

In this file photo, smoke rises as shelling sparks between troops loyal to President Bashar Assad and opposition fighters in the Idlib province countryside, Syria | Image: Uncredited / AP/Press Association Images

A Syrian pilot shot down south of Aleppo has been captured by the al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front, a monitoring group has said.

Syria's military said the plane, which had been on a reconnaissance mission, was brought down by a surface-to-air missile fired by Islamist rebels.

It said the pilot had ejected and a rescue mission was under way.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighters from the Al Nusra Front had taken him to one of their bases in the area.

A plume of smoke was seen as the plane caught fire, the Observatory said, before it fell into an area of highland known as Talat al-Iss.

Syrian and Russian planes have been bombarding the area since it was captured by rebels this week.

Videos posted on social media showed rebels surrounding the plane's burnt-out wreckage.

A fragile truce has been observed in Syria for the last month, as efforts to negotiate an end to the five-year civil war continue.

But that "cessation of hostilities" does not include Islamic State and the Al Nusra Front.

The Syrian military and its allies have continued to launch attacks against them in areas they are said to occupy.

There was no immediate comment from the Al Nusra Front.

Last month, Syrian rebels denied a report from the Russian Defence Ministry, claiming that an anti-aircraft missile had been used to shoot down a Syrian warplane in Hama province.