Syria says shoots down two of three 'IS warplanes'

A Syrian army fighter jet flies over Al-Bab, 30 kilometres from the northeastern Syrian city of Aleppo, on October 17, 2012 (AFP Photo/Tauseef Mustafa)

Damascus (AFP) - Syria's air force has destroyed two of three warplanes reportedly seized by fighters of the Islamic State group in the north of the country, Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi said.

The jihadists were reported to have seized the three planes, believed to be MiG-21 and MiG-23 jets, from Syrian military airports now under IS control in the northern provinces of Aleppo and Raqa.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Friday that jihadists were being trained by Saddam Hussein's former pilots to fly the jets at the military airport of Jarrah, east of the city of Aleppo.

"The terrorists were flying three old planes but our aircraft immediately took off and destroyed two of them as they were landing. The third plane was hidden" by the jihadists, Zohbi was quoted as saying by state news agency SANA Wednesday.

Zohbi downplayed the threat from the remaining plane, saying it was "unusable" and that Syrian forces would eventually track it down and destroy it.

The Observatory, a Britain-based monitoring group, had earlier said witnesses reported seeing the planes flying at a low altitude to avoid detection by radar after taking off from Jarrah.

IS captured numerous military facilities as it seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq, where it has declared an Islamic "caliphate" in areas under its control.