Syrian jet shot down by rebels ahead of talks

    Syrian jet shot down by rebels ahead of talks

    March 13, Damascus: Syrian rebels shot down a warplane in the west of the country, when the government and opposition groups traded barbs ahead of fragile peace talks in Geneva on Monday.

    There were conflicting accounts on Saturday night whether the government plane was brought down by missiles or anti-aircraft guns, reports siad.

    The Syrian military source told the Reuters news agency that fighters targeted a warplane while it was landing in Hama province, bringing it down, and calling the attack a breach of the "cessation of hostilities" agreement.

    A rebel group operating in the area, Jaish al-Nasr, said it shot down the jet with anti-aircraft weapons. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, however, said rebels downed the plane with two heat-seeking missiles, reports said.

    The incident came as the Syrian government confirmed it will attend indirect talks with the opposition in Geneva on Monday.

    The negotiations have been brokered by the UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, who said discussions will include the implementation of presidential elections within 18 months.

    The main opposition bloc, the Riyadh-based High Negotiations Committee (HNC), has repeatedly called for Assad's departure at the start of any transitional period.

    The Oslo Times


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