Jihadist Syrian rebels
Jihadist Syrian rebels Reuters

Syrian rebels on Tuesday downed a military jet in northern Hama province, killing the pilot, the Syrian army confirmed, according to Reuters.

The Tahrir Al-Sham group, which is a group of rebels dominated by members of Al-Qaeda's former branch in Syria, had earlier said it hit the plane.

A source said the jihadist rebels were searching for another pilot they believed had survived the crash.

Syria's air force and army, supported by Russian air power and Iranian-backed militias, have stepped up an offensive in Hama in recent weeks, pushing north towards the rebel stronghold of Idlib.

Tahrir Al-Sham is headed by Abu Mohammed al-Golani, who previously headed Al-Nusra Front, which was the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda before the two groups cut ties last year. Al-Nusra was then rebranded to head the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance.

In October, Russia claimed it had critically injured Golani with an air strike on his position that also killed 12 of his field commanders.

The group, however, denied the claim, saying Golani was in "good health and exercising the duties assigned to him completely."