Syrian Air Force lost 41 planes helicopters in 2012 survey

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The Syrian opposition destroyed 19 Mig fighting jets and 22 helicopters belonging to the regime's air force in 2012, according to survey by the Union of the Syrian Revolution Local Coordination Committees.

Eleven planes were destroyed on the ground in opposition raids on various air bases across the country and 30 were shot down in action.

A sizeable number, 43, of aircrafts destroyed was registered in the province of Idlib, where the first Mig fighter jet was shot down.

In Damascus 16 planes were destroyed, eight in Aleppo, seven in Deir Ezzour, five in Hama and two in Homs.

The survey showed increasing efficiency of the FSA's air defenses and capabilities to shoot down the regime's planes.

In total 103 planes were destroyed since the uprising began last year, the Coordination Committees reported, saying that 83 of those planes shot down or destroyed on the ground were video-taped.

August and November 2012 saw the highest rate of destroyed aircrafts, with an average of about one aircraft a day in both months.

Although the Syrian regime accuses the FSA of having received heavy weapons from Arab and Western countries, Al Arabiya correspondent in northern Syria revealed that all aircrafts were shot down by air defense weapons that FSA members seized in battles with the regime forces.

The FSA relies on the anti-aircraft machine guns including the “Twin ZU-23” to shoot down the aircrafts. They were initially provided for the Syrian army by the Soviet Union during the seventies and eighties.

Using the Syrian Air Force in bombing civilians is not unprecedented in the country. The Baathist regime previously used the air force to silence the Muslim Brotherhood’s uprising in the 1980s. It was also used during the massacre of Hama in 1982 where many aircrafts shelled the city and its old districts with bombs and missiles in order to destroy the city and facilitate the entry of tanks and armored vehicles into its roads.

Military helicopters have also been used in several massacres and other campaigns in the 1980s, mostly in al-Zawiya mount in the northern city of Idlib. The most renowned invasions took place in Jericho, Mahmpel and Blaine, all of which occurred in 1980.

During the massive protests that began in May 2012, the first reports were finally received about the Syrian Air Force participating in the oppression of the protests during the invasion of the cities of Jisr ash-Shoughour and Maart al-Naaman located in the province of Idlib, northwest Syria.

Activists said that military helicopters were used to shoot the demonstrators in Jisr ash-shoughour in June 4 and 5 2011. The operation led to the deaths of 38 civilians in two days.

Few days later, helicopters opened fire to break up thousands of demonstrators in the city of Maart al-Naaman. The shooting killed four protesters and injured dozens of others.

During the past months, the use of warplanes to bomb Syrian cities and towns increased as it reached bombing neighborhoods in Aleppo and Damascus, after the regime had lost control on the ground.

Syrian people are now complaining about what they call “explosive barrels” that cause enormous devastation. They are locally-made and filled with highly explosives “TNT.” They are released from military helicopters.

The regime is also using heavy machine guns and guided missiles according to previous statements by a “Taftanaz” military airport officer in his interview with Al Arabiya.

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