July 17, 2012 / 3:04 PM / in 5 years

Syrian rebels say shot down helicopter over Damascus

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian rebels said they had shot down an army helicopter over the Damascus district of Qaboun on Tuesday, the third day of fierce fighting in the capital between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and his opponents.

“Helicopters are flying at low altitude. It’s easy to target them using anti-aircraft weapons,” a senior rebel officer told Reuters. An activist and another rebel fighter also said the helicopter was brought down in Qaboun, in northeast Damascus.

Residents say security forces backed by helicopter gunships and artillery have been battling rebels in the heaviest fighting inside the capital since the uprising against Assad erupted 16 months ago.

They said many roads in and out of the city were closed.

There has been little official comment on the fighting but state television said security forces were chasing “remnants of armed terrorist groups” in the central Midan district. In nearby Nahr Aisha they also clashed with “terrorists” who were trying to block roads, it said.

Reporting by Mariam Karouny; Editing by Alison Williams

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