The Syrian regime has lost 61 military aircrafts in its war against the armed Free Syrian Army (FSA), according to the Syrian Revolution General Commission (SRGC).
Many of those aircrafts were shot down when they were bombing residential neighborhoods and flying in low altitudes, the SRGC said, adding that about 53 of the operations were documented with pictures and video.
The army has received the lion’s share in the Syrian budget, and most of that money has gone in weapons purchase deals with Russia.
Of all the aircrafts downed, the FSA destroyed 37 helicopters, and 24 Mig, Sukhoi fighter and training jets.
According to statistics published by the SRGC, 40 aircrafts were shot down, and 21 were destroyed in FSA attacks on military airport bases.
August 2012 saw the highest rate of destroyed aircrafts, with an average of about one aircraft a day.
A sizeable number, 32, of aircrafts destroyed was registered in the province of Idlib, where the first Mig fighter jet was shot down.
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 took place in Syria for the past 18 months, 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.