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Insurgents Capture 4 Syrian Airmen After Helicopter Crash

A girl flashes a victory sign as she poses near a helicopter that belongs to forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad after it crashed in Jabal al-Zawiya in the southern countryside of Idlib March 22, 2015.

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.