Jul 1, 6:49 AM EDT

Syria warplane crashes near the capital, pilot missing


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BEIRUT (AP) -- Syria's official news agency says a warplane has crashed east of the capital Damascus due to "technical failure during a training mission."

SANA says the search is on for the pilot, who successfully ejected from the Syrian warplane Friday.

The eastern suburbs of Damascus, where the plane crashed, are held by rebels opposed to President Bashar Assad.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, says the plane appeared to have crashed because of technical failure, adding that the pilot was captured by rebels.

The Jaish al-Islam, or Army of Islam, rebel group, which operates east of Damascus says it shot down the plane. The report could not be confirmed.

Rebels in Syria have long called on their backers to arm them with anti-aircraft missiles against Syrian airstrikes.

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