In a sign that militants of the Islamic State group are evolving their tactics to further intensify and widen attacks, officials of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reportedly said that ISIS is now training its cadre to fly fighter jets.
“They (Islamic State group) have trainers, Iraqi officers who were pilots before for Saddam Hussein,” Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the United Kingdom-based Observatory told Reuters, adding that the militant group is training its members to fly three fighter jets, reportedly captured from the Syrian military.
Rahman told Reuters that locals living in the region have reported seeing the planes take off from the al-Jarrah military airport east of the Syrian city of Aleppo. “They went up many times from the airport and they are flying in the skies outside the airport and coming back,” he reportedly said.
As of now, it is not clear whether the planes, which witnesses identified as MiG 21 or MiG 23 models, are equipped with weaponry, Reuters reported.
If confirmed, this would be the first instance where the Islamic State group, which is facing continuous airstrikes from a United States-led coalition, has taken to the air.
Meanwhile, coalition airstrikes in and around the Syrian border town of Kobani have helped Kurdish fighters push back militants of the Islamic State group, according to media reports. A Kurdish commander told BBC that ISIS had been driven out from most of the town and that it would be “liberated soon.”
In a statement released Thursday, the Observatory said that more than 650 people, including nearly 400 fighters of the Islamic State group, have been killed in Kobani in the last one month, adding that the actual death toll could be at least twice the number.