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Islamic State captures Jordanian pilot after warplane downed in Syria

The Jordanian air force pilot captured by Islamic State fighters

Islamic State fighters took a Jordanian pilot captive after his warplane was downed in northeastern Syria on Wednesday, the first captive taken from the U.S.-led coalition battling the jihadi group.

Jordan’s armed forces said one of its pilots had been captured after his plane fell during an air raid over the northeastern Syrian province of Raqqa on Wednesday.

“Jordan holds the group (IS) and its supporters responsible for the safety of the pilot and his life,” an army statement read on state television said. It did not say whether the plane was shot down.

Islamic State social media accounts published pictures purportedly of the warplane’s pilot being held by the group’s fighters as well as images of what they said was his Jordanian military ID card.

The images were verified by two close relatives contacted by Reuters who said they had been notified by the head of the Jordanian air force the pilot was held captive.

One of the images showed the pilot in a white shirt being led out of the water by several armed fighters. Another showed him on land surrounded by at least a dozen fighters in military fatigues and equipped with assault rifles.

Jordan is one of the countries participating in the U.S.-led coalition set up to battle Islamic State and which has been bombing Islamic State targets in Syria since September.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have also participated in or supported the strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, according to U.S. Central Command.

Raqqa province, which borders Turkey, is almost entirely under the control of Islamic State fighters.

Boosted by arms seized in Iraq, the group evicted most rival rebels from the province earlier this year and took control of a string of government military bases over the summer, including an air base.

The United States is also bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq, where the group has seized swathes of territory.

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