ISIL downs warplane in eastern Syria, captures Jordanian pilot

The ISIL has shot down a coalition jet and captured a Jordanian pilot in Syria’s Raqqa city

ISIL downs warplane in eastern Syria, captures Jordanian pilot

World Bulletin/News Desk

ISIL fighters said on Wednesday they had shot down a warplane in the northeastern Syria province of Raqqa and taken the pilot captive.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said it had confirmed reports the plane was brought down near Raqqa city, a major stronghold for ISIL fighters.

Jordan's armed forces said one of its pilots had been captured after his plane fell during an air raid over the northeastern Syrian province of Raqqa on Wednesday.

"Jordan holds the group (IS) and its supporters responsible for the safety of the pilot and his life," an army statement read on state television said. It did not say whether the plane was shot down.

ISIL social media accounts published pictures purportedly of the warplane's pilot being held by the group's fighters and said he was Jordanian.

The images were verified by two relatives contacted by Reuters who said they had been notified by the head of the Jordanian air force the pilot was First Lieutenant Muath al-Kasaesbeh, aged 27. The army separately confirmed his name.

A friend said Kasaesbeh, who is from a prominent Jordanian family, was fervent in his commitment to his mission and felt it was a religious duty to fight extremist groups that were "distorting the true spirit of Islam".

One of the published images showed the pilot, wearing a white shirt, being led out of water by armed fighters. Another showed him on land surrounded by at least a dozen fighters in military fatigues and equipped with assault rifles.

Both the Syrian government and a U.S.-led coalition set up to fight ISIL regularly strike ISIL targets in Raqqa province.

Raqqa province, which borders Turkey, is almost entirely under the control of ISIL fighters.

Jordan is one of the countries participating in the U.S.-led coalition which has been bombing ISIL targets in Syria since September.

The staunch U.S. ally has provided a logistics base for the U.S.-led air campaign and is a hub for intelligence-gathering operations, a western diplomatic source said.

King Abdullah has been in the forefront of regional U.S. allies supportive of the campaign but has said radicals cannot defeated by military means alone and their ideology must be confronted with reason.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have also joined or supported the strikes in Syria, according to U.S. Central Command.

The United States is also bombing ISIL targets in Iraq, where the group has seized swathes of territory.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Aralık 2014, 16:18

Muhammed Öylek