Syrian rebels down army helicopter in southwest-Observatory

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Syrian insurgents brought down an army helicopter in southwest Syria on Friday, near the borders with Israel and Lebanon, killing its two crew members, a war monitoring group said.

Two Syrian army officers from the helicopter’s crew died, the monitor said.

The Syrian military could not immediately be reached for comment.

“Rebel groups shot down a regime helicopter with a guided missile near the border with Lebanon and the (Israeli-) occupied Golan,” said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the aircraft went down in government territory southwest of Damascus after a missile hit it.

The area where the helicopter was taken down is an enclave controlled by Islamist rebel and militant groups but surrounded by regime forces.

Abdel Rahman said the fighting has increased there since October.

More than 340,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the Syrian war, which began in 2011 as the regime brutally crushed anti-government protests. Millions have been displaced.