Syria army plane crash toll rises to 37: monitor

A view of the Syrian town of Ariha, where Iyad al-Adl was shot dead along with a second member of Al-Nusra Front (AFP Photo/Ghaith Omran) (Al-Maarra Today/AFP/File)

Beirut (AFP) - A Syrian military aircraft that crashed during a bombing run over rebel-held territory killed at least 37 people and injured more than 60, a monitor said on Tuesday.

The victims died when the plane crashed on Monday in the town of Ariha in Idlib province, and in preceding air strikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which originally said 31 were killed.

"There are three children among the 37 victims," the Britain-based monitor said.

The crash and explosion destroyed the main market in Ariha, which was overrun by a rebel Islamist alliance in May.

Local activist Ibrahim al-Idlibi, speaking to AFP via the Internet, said the blast was caused by rockets and bombs still on the plane.

"It destroyed the entire market, as well as residential buildings near the market," he said.

The Damascus regime has relied heavily on its monopoly of air power in Syria's four-year-long civil war, repeatedly pounding rebel-held towns.

It has lost a number of aircraft, some to rebel fire and others to mechanical failure.

In mid-January, at least 35 government troops were killed when a military aircraft crashed in Idlib.

The province, which borders Turkey, has since been largely overrun by a rebel alliance including Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.