A video, filmed in central Syria today allegedly shows the first ISIS jet in flight.
In the last few days, several media outlets reported the news that the Islamic State has started combat operations using “Mig” fighter jets from an airbase in Syria.
Indeed, in 2014, ISIS has captured two airbases in central Syria, Tabqa and Kshesh, where Islamic State fighters have seized some Syrian Arab Air Force airplanes. Among these aircraft, several Mig-21s and L-39s, some of those, if not airworthy, were probably at least in pretty good shape.
Photos of IS fighters posing next to intact L-39s at Kshesh, about 70 kilometers to the east of Aleppo, have been published on several websites and social media: some of them show the combat trainers in near operational conditions.
Obviously, the mere fact that some aircraft, with some missing parts were captured by ISIS, does not mean they now have an Air Force. Still, their capability to bring a few of those “Migs” to flight conditions should not be underestimated: with the help of the Iraqi personnel formerly serving with the Iraqi Air Force the three planes were reportedly brought back to operational status at Kshesh. Most probably piloted by Iraqi, IS supporters or mercenaries.
On Oct. 18, a video reportedly filmed near Kshesh emerged. It shows a jet landing at the airbase under IS control in central Syria.
Although it’s not easy to guess the type of aircraft, it may be an L-39.
As said, the fact that some aircraft have been brought to operational status is far from being surprising. What’s weird is that U.S. aircraft involved in Operation Inherent Resolve (as the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS was dubbed) have not yet targeted Kshesh airbase to wipe out the first three aircraft of the quite basic IS Air Force…
Top image is a file photo of a Syrian Arab Air Force L-39 during an air strike over Aleppo.