ISIS shoots down Syria warplane: monitor

BEIRUT (AFP) - The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group has shot down a Syrian regime warplane that was bombing opposition-held areas, killing the pilot, a monitoring group said on Friday.

Extremists published photographs of the plane and the pilot's body on social media sites following the crash on Thursday night in Damascus province that was claimed by IS.

ISIS and rebel factions seeking President Bashar al-Assad's overthrow have frequently brought down regime warplanes.

"A plane was shot down in the Bir Qasab area of southern Damascus province, leading to its pilot's death," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP that ISIS used anti-aircraft weapons to shoot down the plane while it was on a bombing raid.

ISIS members and supporters published several photographs of the strike on their social media accounts.

One photograph published on social media sites showed a plume of black smoke rising over the apparent scene of the attack.

Others showed the pilot's bloodied corpse, as well as his military ID.

One widely shared extremist tweet read: "The lions of the (ISIS) caliphate have shot down a (Syrian air force) plane in Bir Qasab... and its pilot was killed, thank God."

ISIS has militants positioned in several areas of Damascus province, mainly the Qalamun area near Lebanon.

Regime warplanes and helicopters bombard opposition-held areas every day. Rights groups say most of the casualties from the aerial bombardment are civilians.