Al Qaeda says downs Syrian cargo plane, army say fog causes crash

by Reuters
Sunday, 18 January 2015 11:18 GMT

(Adds army comment, changes headline)

BEIRUT, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The Syrian wing of al Qaeda, the Nusra Front, said on Twitter on Sunday it had shot down an army cargo plane carrying food and ammunition overnight in the northwest of the country, but Syrian state television blamed the loss on bad weather.

Reuters could not verify either account due to security and reporting restrictions in Syria.

Syrian state television quoted a military source as saying the cargo plane crashed due to "weather conditions and heavy fog" on Saturday evening. The crew had died as the plane crashed while attempting to land at the Abu al-Duhur military airport in Idlib province.

"Nusra Front downed a military cargo plane overnight above the Abu al-Duhur military airport," the tweet said.

Several Syrian air force jets and helicopters have been shot down in Syria's civil war, which erupted after the government cracked down on pro-democracy protests in 2011.

A U.S.-led coalition is flying sorties in Syria to strike the hardline Islamic State group, an offshoot of al Qaeda that is also fighting the Syrian army.

Last month, a Jordanian air force pilot was captured by Islamic State fighters after his plane was downed near the militant group's stronghold of Raqqa in northeastern Syria. (Reporting by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.