A Jordanian pilot captured by the ISIL terror group in northern Syria has reportedly been forced to eject due to a technical failure.
The 26-year-old First Lieutenant Maaz al-Kassasbeh, who was seized on December 24 after his F-16 aircraft crashed over northern Syria, “was flying at a high altitude to start with,” said Obada al-Hussein, an activist from the ISIL-controlled city of Raqqa on Friday.
“He hit the brick factory and then disappeared from sight,” said Hussein, who was speaking via the Internet, adding, “Then the plane flew back, and this time smoke was coming out of it. I believe there was a technical failure.”
Abu Ibrahim, another activist from the city, also pointed to a “technical failure,” saying, “The plane fell in an area called Hamra Ghannam, in the eastern countryside of Raqqa.”
The accounts were consistent with that of the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which said, “Sources in the area saw the plane flying very low. There was a technical failure. The sources then saw IS (ISIL) members fire heavy machine guns and shoulder-fired missiles at the plane.”
The UK-based group further said that al-Kassasbeh ejected “after the technical problem made it impossible for him to return to a higher altitude.”
The comments came shortly after the Jordanian army denied ISIL claims that it had shot down one of its warplanes.
The US military also rejected the terror group’s claim to have struck the jet and said, “Evidence clearly suggests that ISIL did not down the aircraft.”
Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are among the countries that have joined the so-called US-led coalition carrying out airstrikes against what is said to be ISIL positions in Syria.
Most of these countries have been supporting al-Qaeda-linked militant groups fighting against the government in Syria.
The Jordanian plane is the first coalition warplane shot down since the airstrikes in Syria started in September.