This may be the first video to show an ISIS jet in flight in Syria

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.


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Of course the US is not attacking any ISIS air or Military bases, if they do Russia will become upset and want to aid Assad. The US is not even making a dent to ISIS. Any other country who went on the attack to repel a group such as ISIS would use all means and weapons necessary to wipe them out. Well were shadow boxing with ISIS they are becoming bigger and more formidable. My question would be, what is the US/Coalition waiting for? Iranian war games are more intense than the stuff being portrayed as a battle with ISIS and the coalition. Lets be real for a minute.

  2. Instant jet pilots? Who knew? US and IAF pilots train for most of a decade. Just a side note: Iraqi pilots still haven’t had enough time to become proficient pilots. ISIS fusion scientist next? ISIS puts man on the moon?

    • Probably just showing off as a a propaganda toy.

      But if they were really bold…remember what Japan did when it was stuck with lousy (but fanatical) pilots, obsolete aircraft, and shortages of fuel and spare parts to keep their air force running?

      If I were the Caliph, I’d send my little air group on a one way trip to try to hit the US embassy in Baghdad. Nothing to lose by failing and a chance at killing hundreds and humiliating the US if even one plane gets through.

  3. Looks like the sportier L-39ZO or L-39ZA model (4 hard points). The L39 uses less fuel then my old van (well not really but still pretty frugal)!

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