Syria: Army helicopter shot by rebels (VIDEO)


Syrians grieve after bomb blasts in Damascus on March 18, 2012.


Louai Beshara

Syrian rebels have claimed responsibility for shooting down an army helicopter while fighting regime forces in Damascus.

Rebel forces state that the aircraft was firing at people in the capital's northeast district of Jobar, as heavy fighting broke out between the opposition and the government. Reuters reported that it burst into flames, and state media has confirmed that helicopter came down in the nearby area of Qabun.

"It was in revenge for the Daraya massacre," said a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army's Badr battalion in Damascus, the AFP reported. On Sunday, regime forces reportedly massacred about 330 people in an assault on the Damascus suburb of Daraya. GlobalPost reported that "the regime brought in its own cameras to document the full horror, lest any Syrians or their supporters abroad doubt the lengths it will go to keep the ruling family in power."

The Guardian has obtained amateur footage of what appears to be the helicopter engulfed in flames:

According to the BBC, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has continued to state that a "foreign conspiracy" is behind the Syrian uprising.

"What is happening right now is not just a plot directed against Syria but the region as a whole, of which Syria is a foundational stone," he said to state news agency SANA.