Officials in Amman have confirmed that a Jordanian warplane has been shot down over Syria. This is the first time that the US-led coalition has lost a plane conducting airstrikes against "Islamic State" (IS) fighters.
The details of how the plane was brought down remained sketchy on Wednesday, but two things were clear: The plane was shot down, and the Jordanian pilot taken captive by "Islamic State" (IS) fighters in Syria.
The Jordanian information minister, Mohammad Momani was cited by the Associated Press as saying that the plane was shot down by "ground fire," but did not provide further details.
Speaking on satellite television channel Al Hadath, a government spokesman also confirmed that the fighter jet had been "shot at from the ground by rocket missiles and brought down." An attempt to retrieve the pilot before he could be captured had failed, he added.
Jordan's King Abdullah was reported to be meeting with senior officers at the headquarters of the country's military.
The warplane came down near the city of Raqqa, which the IS has made its de-facto capital, since it proclaimed a "caliphate" after seizing large swathes of territory in parts of Syria and northern Iraq earlier this year.
Images verified by family members
The IS has released photographs of the captured pilot on Islamist websites. One shows a man wearing a white shirt being carried from a body of water by four men. Another shows him on land surrounded by a group of armed men.
A third image showed the pilot's alleged military identification card, showing his name as Maaz al-Kassasbeh, a 1988 birthdate, and his rank of first lieutenant. The images have been verified as being of Kassaba by members of his family contacted by news agencies.
While it wasn't immediately clear what weapons IS fighters used to bring down the aircraft, IS are known to have Russian-made Igla shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.
Jordan is one of a number of Arab countries that have joined the US-led coalition which has been conducting air strikes on IS fighters in Syria since September. US and other coalition forces have been hitting IS militants in northern Iraq since August.
IS militants have committed numerous atrocities in regions under its control, including the beheadings of dozens of captured Syrian soldiers. It has also beheaded three Americans and two Britons and posted their images on the Internet.
In a separate attack on Wednesday, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives among a group of pro-government Sunni militiamen at a military base south of Baghdad as they gathered to get their paychecks. At least 24 militiamen and soldiers were killed and around twice as many wounded.
pfd/ksb (AP, AFP, Reuters)