ISIS claims it has captured Syrian pilot alive after shooting down his plane

A man walking on the wreckage of a plane that crashed east of Damascus, in this still image taken from video said to be shot on April 22.
A man walking on the wreckage of a plane that crashed east of Damascus, in this still image taken from video said to be shot on April 22.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIRUT (AFP) - The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Friday (April 22) captured a Syrian pilot alive after shooting down his plane east of Damascus, the ISIS-affiliated Amaq news agency said.

Amaq gave the pilot's name as Azzam Eid, from Hama. It said ISIS fighters had shot down his plane and found him alive after he parachuted down to the crash site.

A video posted by Amaq showed the charred remains of a plane, some parts still on fire, lying on a vast desert plain.

Several apparent ISIS fighters in military-style fatigues circle around the wreckage, pointing to the two-starred Syrian government flag clearly visible on one of the wings.

Syrian state news agency SANA had no immediate news on the incident.

ISIS fighters have shot down several Syrian government warplanes in recent weeks, including over the Dmeir military airport near Damascus and in the southern province of Sweida.

But the pilots were able to land in regime-held zones on both occasions.

In December 2014, IS shot down a warplane from the US-led coalition striking the group in Syria and captured the Jordanian pilot alive.

The ultra-conservative group later burnt pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh alive and posted video footage of his death online.

Syria's conflict first began in March 2011 with widespread anti-government protests which have since spiralled into a multi-front, complicated civil war.

Across the country, ISIS is fighting the Syrian government, non-jihadist rebels, and Kurdish groups.