Are ISIS Fighters Learning to Fly Jets?

Leah Barkoukis
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Posted: Oct 18, 2014 12:01 PM
Are ISIS Fighters Learning to Fly Jets?

Not only is our current strategy against ISIS not working, according to a new report, they too may be taking the fight to the skies. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is reporting that former Iraqi pilots who’ve joined the terror group are now training members to fly in captured Syrian fighter jets. 

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group says some ex-Iraqi air force pilots are training members of ISIS to fly three warplanes—believed to be MiG-21 and MiG-23 jets-- captured from air bases in Syria.

The rights group reported the planes flying over the Jarrah air base in the eastern countryside of the Syrian town of Aleppo this week.

Rami Abdurrahman, director of the Observatory, said the planes have been flying at a low altitude, apparently to avoid being detected by Syrian military radar in the area.

"People saw the flights, they went up many times from the airport and they are flying in the skies outside the airport and coming back," the BBC reported Abdurrahman said.

The report, which could not be independently verified, comes as the U.S. and its allies are bombing Islamic State group bases in Syria and Iraq, where the extremists have seized large swaths of territory.

The Pentagon on Friday said it was “not aware” of any flight operations by the terror group.

"We continue to keep a close eye on (ISIS) activity in Syria and Iraq and will continue to conduct strikes against their equipment, facilities, fighters and centers of gravity, wherever they may be," U.S. Central Command spokesman Col Patrick Ryder told reporters.

"We don't have any operational reporting of (ISIS) flying jets in support of ISIS activity on the ground and so I cannot confirm that. And to the degree that pilots may have defected and joined the ranks of ISIS, I don't have any information on that either," Gen. Lloyd Austin, head of the U.S. military's Central Command, said on Friday.