Rebels shot down a Syrian army helicopter on Monday while it was bombarding the Damascus neighbourhood of Jobar, as heavy fighting broke out between rebels and troops loyal to President Bashar Assad in the district, witnesses said.

Syrian state television said in a news flash a helicopter had been downed in Damascus, but offered no further details.

The witnesses said the helicopter was engulfed in flames after it was hit by a projectile during a burst of gun fire and then came down in the nearby district of Qaboun.

Video footage taken by activists also showed a burning helicopter falling to the ground. Rebels on the ground could be heard shouting "God is greatest".