Islamic State Militants Capture a Jordanian Pilot Who Crashed in Northern Syria
IS claimed to have shot down the plane with a heat seeking missile near the city of Raqqa, photographs have now been published of the pilot who has now been identified as Flight Lieutenant Moaz Youssef al-Kasasbeh. This news was revealed by a Petra state news agency.
Since the US airstrikes began in September this is reportedly the first US-led coalition aircraft to be lost in IS regions. Jordan is one of four Arab states which have bombed targets in Syria.
A military source was quoted, “During a mission Wednesday morning conducted by several Royal Jordanian Air Force planes against hideouts of the IS terrorist organisation in the Raqqa region, one of the planes went down and the pilot was taken hostage,”
“Jordan holds the group and its supporters responsible for the safety of the pilot and his life,” they added.
UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claim they received reports from their activists that IS members had captured, “an Arab pilot prisoner after shooting his plane down with an anti-aircraft missile near the city of Raqqa”.
A pro IS Raqqa Media posted an image on their official Facebook page showing armed men taking the pilot supposedly out of a river or lake. He was reportedly bleeding from the mouth but able to stand, he had on a white T-shirt and was soaking wet. The page also published his military ID card.
Lt Kasasbeh’s father, Youssef al-Kasasbeh, confirmed his son’s capture in Syria during an interview with the Jordanian newspaper, Saraya. He announced a heartfelt plea to IS militants, “May Allah plant mercy in your hearts and may you release my son.”
The air forces of Jordan, USA, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain have carried out a large number of air strikes on IS in Syria for the past three months. A common target has been Raqqa which is the general capital of the “caliphate” proclaimed by IS in June. Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and UK have also joined the US in conducting air strikes on IS in neighbouring Iraq.