ISIS Captures Jordan Pilot After Coalition Warplane Downed in Syria for First Time

The U.S.-led coalition has carried out hundreds of airstrikes against ISIS positions in Syria since Sept. 23.

Will Lester
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A Twitter screenshot showing the Jordanian pilot reportedly captured by ISIS, December 24, 2014.
Will Lester

AP- ISIS group fighters shot down a warplane on Wednesday believed to be from the U.S.-led coalition over Syria and captured its pilot, activists said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the aircraft was shot down near the northern city of Raqqa, the Islamic State group's de facto capital. The Observatory said the warplane was part of the U.S.-led coalition, adding that the captured pilot is an Arab.

Another group, the Raqqa Media Center, that covers areas under ISIS control in Raqqa claimed that the pilot is Jordanian. RMC said the warplane crashed near the village of Hamra Ghannam adding that ISIS militants were searching the area in case there is another pilot.

If true, it will be the first warplane shot down by ISIS since the U.S.-led coalition began its airstrikes against the group in Syria three months ago.

RMC published a photograph said to be of the pilot who appeared wearing a white shirt as he was surrounded by 11 fighters, some of them masked. Another photograph published by the group showed the man — naked from the waist down and soaking wet — being captured by three gunmen as he was taken out of what appeared to be a lake.

RMC later posted a photograph of the Jordanian military identity card of the pilot identifying him as Mu'ath Safi Yousef al-Kaseasbeh who was born on May 29, 1988.

In Jordan, the pilot's cousin Marwan al-Kaseasbeh confirmed by telephone with The Associated Press that the photos are of his cousin. He added that the Jordanian government has so far not contacted the pilot's family.

There was no immediate comment from Jordanian authorities.

In Washington, a Pentagon official said they are aware of the claims being made over social media that a pilot has been shot down, but they could not confirm the report at this time.

The official said any further questions about the alleged capture should be referred to the government of Jordan. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the reports by name.

The U.S.-led coalition has carried out hundreds of airstrikes against IS positions in Syria since Sept. 23.

Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have joined in airstrikes against the extremist group, while Qatar is providing logistical support.

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