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Pilot captured after Islamic State shoots down coalition jet for the first time

It is believed a heat-seeking missile shot down the warplane.

Mideast Syria_Acos AP Photo / Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group AP Photo / Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group / Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group

ISLAMIC STATE HAS captured a Jordanian pilot after his warplane from the US-led coalition was reportedly shot down while on a mission over northern Syria.

A senior Jordanian military official confirmed the pilot was seized, saying his plane went down in Syria’s Raqa region, a militant stronghold, early today.

“The pilot was taken hostage by the IS terrorist organisation,” official news agency Petra quoted the official as saying.

Jordan did not say why the plane went down, but both the jihadists and a monitoring group said it was shot with an anti-aircraft missile.

It was the first coalition warplane lost since air strikes on IS began in Syria in September.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said its sources confirmed IS had captured the pilot “after shooting his plane down with an anti-aircraft missile near Raqa city.”

Regular airstrikes

Coalition warplanes have carried out regular strikes around Raqa, which IS has used as the headquarters for its self-declared “caliphate” after seizing control of large parts of Syria and Iraq.

The IS branch in Raqa published photographs on jihadist websites purporting to show its fighters holding the captured pilot.

One showed the pilot, wearing only a white shirt, being carried from a body of water by four men. Another showed him on land, surrounded by about a dozen armed men.

A photograph was also released of the pilot’s military identification card, showing his name as Maaz al-Kassasbeh, his birth date as May 29, 1988, and his rank of first lieutenant.

Heat-seeking missile

The jihadists claimed to have shot down the warplane with a heat-seeking missile.

Images distributed by IS supporters appeared to show the remains of an F-16 fighter jet.

Experts said the missile used may have been taken from Syrian rebels or among weapons captured from Syrian and Iraqi troops.

Eliot Higgins, who posts detailed analyses of weapons in Syria and other conflicts on his blog, said IS is known to have several kinds of anti-aircraft weapons including Chinese-made and Soviet-era missiles.

- © AFP, 2014 

Read: Women and young girls are being ‘sold’ or given as ‘gifts’ by Islamic extremists >

More: Is Islamic State turning its hand to cyber warfare? >

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