Nusra Front rebels
Nusra Front rebelsReuters

A Syrian rebel group allied with Al Qaeda said it had downed a warplane over northern Syria on Tuesday, with the pilot reportedly captured.

In a statement on Twitter, Ahrar al-Sham, a hardline Islamist group that fights alongside Al Qaeda's local affiliate, said it "shot down a warplane (over the town of Al-Eis) that was conducting airstrikes."

Earlier, a rebel source had confirmed that a regime warplane had been shot down, but said it was likely by fighters from Al Qaeda's Syrian branch, Al-Nusra Front.

The source said the pilot had been taken alive.  

The rebel source said it was "likely that (Al Qaeda's Syria affiliate) Al-Nusra Front shot down the plane and took the pilot," adding that the plane had been hit by heavy machinegun fire.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Al-Nusra downed the plane, which it said was likely being flown by a Syrian air force pilot.

The Al-Qaeda affiliate is not party to the ceasefire between government forces and non-jihadist rebels brokered by the United States and Russia that has been in place since February 27.

On Friday, Al-Nusra and its allies pushed regime loyalists out of Al-Eis, a strategic town in Aleppo province.

In video footage circulated on social media purporting to show the scene where the plane came down, a dozen men crowd around a man lying in the dirt.  

Some of them cry: "He's Syrian, he's Syrian!" and others yell: "Get his weapons off him!"

AFP could not confirm the authenticity of the footage.

Last month, Islamist rebels shot down a regime warplane over the village of Kafr Nabuda in the central province of Hama.

AFP contributed to this report.