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Report: Syrian fighters shoot down regime helicopter in east, killing troops

Published: Updated:

Syrian opposition fighters have shot down a military helicopter in the country's east, killing eight government troops on board, activists said on Monday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights posted an online video showing several armed men standing in front of the wreckage. One of the fighters in the footage says it's a helicopter that the rebels shot down late Sunday in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, along Syria's border with Iraq.

As the man speaks, the camera shifts to a pickup truck piled with bodies. The fighter is then heard saying that all of President Bashar al-Assad's troops who were aboard the helicopter were killed in the downing, according to the Associated Press.

The Observatory, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, says eight troops were killed.

The news came after violence in Syria reached new heights on Sunday

Syria's residents were startled by heavy blasts that shook Damascus early Sunday when Israeli warplanes targeted a military research center in the capital’s suburbs, Syrian state television reported.

The TV reported the explosions that rocked Jamraya were caused by an Israeli missile strike on the research center that took place at 1:56 a.m. local time.

“Everything was quiet and suddenly we saw this bright orange light in the sky followed by a very loud explosion,” said Tarek Hillnawi, a Damascus resident who was sitting on his balcony chatting with his friends when the blast occurred.“I felt that it was over for us, that all of Damascus is set on fire.”

According to Reuters, a western intelligence source said on Sunday that the overnight attack targeted a missile shipment that was “in transit” from Iran to Hezbollah.

An hour following the large blast, Al Samaa Syrian TV released a photo allegedly showing the moment the Syrian army launched an attack targeting an Israeli warplane. Unconfirmed news circulated that the Syrian army took down an Israeli jet.

At least 40 blasts were heard across the capital following the alleged Israeli attack, which according to activists, targeted the Syrian government’s security forces sites in Damascus, including the Maher al-Assad Fourth Division Military Group and the weapon depot of the Syrian Republican Guard in Jamraya. Syrian state media denied these attacks.