The Slatest

ISIS Takes Coalition Pilot Hostage After Jet Goes Down During Syria Airstrikes

Smoke rises following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Kobani, Syria in October 2014.

Photo by Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images

A Jordanian pilot conducting airstrikes as part of the U.S.-led coalition combating ISIS was captured by the Islamist group after crashing in northeastern Syria on Wednesday. ISIS claimed it shot the F-16 down, but U.S. officials suspect a mechanical problem caused the crash and say there is no evidence the jet crashed due to enemy fire. “Both the U.S. and Jordanian governments have special operations teams in the region to help rescue pilots,” according to the Wall Street Journal. “But officials said there were early indications that the pilot didn’t have a chance to try to evade militants on the ground.”

The capture of the pilot could complicate anti-ISIS efforts because after more than 1,400 coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, the jet is the first to go down in the campaign against the radical group, the New York Times reports. “It is also the first time since the campaign began that the jihadists have been reported to capture anyone from the military of a participating country, giving it a new form of leverage over its enemies.”

“This is tragic. This is horrible,” a U.S. defense official told the Journal. “All of us are very familiar with [ISIS]’s barbarity.”