The Islamic State shot down a Jordanian warplane today as it was conducting operations over the Syrian city of Raqqah, and captured the pilot.
The Islamic State’s Raqqah division “identified the pilot as First Lieutenant Mu’adh Yusuf al Kasasbeh,” a Jordanian, and published photographs of its fighters capturing him in what appears to be a body of water and then marching him away, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained the images. The jihadist group also published photographs of the wreckage of the warplane.
The jihadist group said it shot down Kasasbeh’s aircraft with an air-aircraft missile as he was flying a mission over Raqqah, the de facto capital of the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
The Jordan Armed Forces confirmed that one of its warplanes was shot down as it was conducting an operation near Raqqah and that one of its pilots was being held “hostage,” The Jordan Times reported. Kasasbeh’s family confirmed he was being held by the Islamic State.
The Jordanian government claimed that the hostage situation would not impact its involvement in the coalition that has been launching airstrikes against the Islamic State and occasionally the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. “The government pledged to continue war on terrorism in defending Islam,” the newspaper stated.
The Jordanian aircraft is the first from the Coalition that has been shot down by the Islamic State or other jihadist groups in either Iraq or Syria since the US and its allies began launching airstrikes in Iraq on Aug. 7 and Syria on Sept. 22. Kasasbeh is the first Coalition hostage.
The Islamic State and other jihadist groups such as the Al Nusrah Front and the Muhajireen Army have shot down several Syrian warplanes and military helicopters since the civil war began in the spring of 2011. Additionally, the Islamic State has shot down multiple Iraqi military helicopters in Iraq.
The jihadist groups are flush with shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons after overrunning numerous Syrian and Iraqi military bases and seizing weapons caches that have been left behind.