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News, December 2014
Jordanian Pilot, Mu'adh Yousuf Al-Kassassbeh, Captured by Islamic State Fighters After Downing his Jetfighter Plane Over Al-Riqqa Lake, Syria
December 24, 2014
Arabic sources, with photos and videos:
Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS after jet downed over Syria
Russia TV, December 24, 2014, 12:33
Militants from the Islamic State (IS) have captured a Jordanian jet pilot, whose warplane was reportedly shot down over the IS stronghold in the eastern Syrian province of Raqqa.
A series of pictures showing cheering gunmen carrying a young and apparently battered man wearing nothing but a white shirt have surfaced online in the wake of the crash.
The man is allegedly a Jordanian Air Force pilot, Mu'adh Yousuf Al-Kassassbeh. IS claims to have shot his plane down with an anti-aircraft missile. If confirmed, it would be the first coalition fighter jet to be shot down by militants in the region following months of airstrikes. Images of the downed jet have been published on social media.
The plane crash was first reported by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Later on Wednesday, the Jordanian military confirmed one of its pilots had been captured during coalition airstrikes on IS-held territory. The Jordanian army told IS it is responsible for the pilotís wellbeing.
Two relatives of the pilot told Reuters they had been notified by the head of the Jordanian air force about the incident.
IS is an Islamist group seeking to create a caliphate in predominantly Sunni territories of Iraq and Syria. The militants have been exterminating residents of those territories belonging to ethnic and religious minorities who do fit into their vision of the future state.
Jordan is one of several Arab states which joined the US-led campaign to cripple IS through air strikes and via support of their opponents on the ground, including Kurdish militias and Iraqi army.
On Tuesday, the Observatory reported that at least 1,171 members of IS and the ideologically-aligned Al-Nusra Front had been killed in Arab and international airstrikes since September 23. The Observatory also said that Syrian government airstrikes had killed 20 people in Raqqa province on the same day.
Islamic State captures Jordanian pilot after warplane shot down in Syria
By Suleiman Al-Khalidi
AMMAN Wed Dec 24, 2014 10:46am EST
Islamic State fighters took a Jordanian pilot prisoner after his warplane was shot down in northeast Syria on Wednesday, the first captive taken from the U.S.-led coalition battling the Islaimic State.
Jordan's armed forces said one of its pilots had been captured after a coalition air raid over the province of Raqqa.
"Jordan holds the Islamic State and its supporters responsible for the safety of the pilot and his life," said a statement read out on state television.
Jordan's government spokesman Mohammad Al-Momani told satellite TV station Al-Hadath the jet fighter "was shot at from the ground by rocket missiles and was brought down" and that an attempt to rescue the pilot before he was captured failed. He did not elaborate.
An official source said King Abdullah was meeting top commanders in Jordanian military headquarters, where a round-the-clock operations room had been set up after the pilot's capture.
U.S. officials said no U.S. aircraft or personnel had been involved in the incident and the cause of the crash was unknown.
Islamic State social media published pictures appearing to show the pilot being held by the group's fighters and images of what they said was his Jordanian military ID card.
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 Muadh al-Kassassbeh, aged 27. The army separately confirmed his name.
A friend said Kassassbeh, who is from a prominent Jordanian family, was fervent in his commitment to his mission".
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.
Jordan is one of the countries participating in the U.S.-led coalition which has been bombing Islamic State 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 against the Islamic State, a western diplomatic source said.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have also joined or supported the strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, according to U.S. Central Command.
Raqqa province, which borders Turkey, is almost entirely under the control of Islamic State fighters.
Boosted by arms seized in Iraq, the Islamic State evicted most rival rebels from the province earlier this year and took control of a string of government military bases over the summer, including an air base.
The United States is also bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq, where the group has seized swathes of territory.
(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; editing by Andrew Roche)
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