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Militants shoot down Syrian fighter jet: Monitoring group

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A picture showing the alleged wreckage of a Syrian jet shot down east of Damascus by anti-government militants on June 05, 2017. (Photo via social media)

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 21 civilians have been killed in a US airstrike near the city of Raqqah and that anti-Damascus militants have shot down a Syrian military plane to the east of the country’s capital.      

The UK-based monitoring group said on Monday that the plane crashed some 50 kilometers to the east of Damascus.It noted that it could not confirm if the pilot was dead or alive.

"We have brought down a Syrian jet in Tel Dakwa area in rural Damascus and we are searching for the pilot," said a spokesman for Western-backed Jaish Osoud al Sharqiya militant group, Saad al Haj.

Meanwhile, pictures which are claimed to be of the plane’s wreckage and its pilot’s remains, have been posted on militant social media sites.

A separate militant group has also claimed to have downed the plane after hitting it with anti-aircraft weaponry recently supplied by the US.

The group added that the plane had crashed some 15 kilometers to the east of Bir Qasab between Tal Dakwa and Dumair airport.

US strike kills 21 in Raqqah

Also on Monday, the observatory said that 21 civilians were killed during a US airstrike while they were trying to flee the Daesh-held city of Raqqah.

"The civilians were boarding small boats on the northern bank of the Euphrates River to flee southern neighborhoods of Raqqah," said observatory Director Rami Abdel Rahman. He added that women and children were among the casualties.  

"The toll may continue to rise as some of the wounded are in critical condition," he noted.

The US has been conducting airstrikes against what it calls Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. 

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According to latest figures released by SOHR, airstrikes by the US and its allies left a total of 225 civilians dead in Syria between April 23 and May 23 alone.

Daesh seized Raqqah in 2014, the same year when it started its campaign of terror in Syria. It then proceeded to capture large swathes of Syrian territory.

A French Rafale fighter jet is being prepared on the deck of the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle at the start of the Operation Arromanches 3 on September 30, 2016 in east Mediterranean Sea. (Photo by AFP)

Thousands of civilians have fled the northern city in the face of a looming  offensive by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Different foreign-backed terrorist groups have been wreaking havoc in Syria since 2011.

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Over the past few months, Syrian forces have made sweeping gains against Takfiri elements who have lately increased their acts of violence across the country following a series of defeats on the ground.

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