Insurgents captured four Syrian airmen Sunday after their helicopter crashed in a rebel-held area in northwestern Syria.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks violence in the country, said the aircraft experienced a technical malfunction and made an emergency crash landing near Jabal al-Zawiya. Syria's state news agency confirmed one of its helicopters crashed in Idlib province.
The monitoring group said opposition fighters, including some from the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front, took four crew members prisoner. Another crew member was killed by his captors, while the fate of a sixth airman was unknown.
The United Nations says the Syrian air force uses helicopters extensively to drop barrel bombs, giant canisters packed with improvised munitions, on rebel-held positions.