- The Washington Times - Friday, October 17, 2014

Iraqi pilots have reportedly defected to the Islamic State group and are training members of the terror organization to fly captured Syrian fighter jets.

Reuters reported Friday that what appeared to be MiG 21 or MiG 23 aircraft were seen flying over Syria’s al-Jarrah military airport, which was captured by the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

“They have trainers, Iraqi officers who were pilots before for Saddam Hussein,” Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Reuters.

Mr. Abdulrahman said witnesses saw the three jets flying near the Turkish border “many times,” before returning to the airport.

Gen. Lloyd Austin, head of the U.S. military’s Central Command, told Reuters that he could not confirm that Iraqi pilots had joined Islamic State.

“We don’t have any operational reporting of ISIL flying jets in support of ISIL activity on the ground and so I cannot confirm that. And to the degree that pilots may have defected and joined the ranks of ISIL, I don’t have any information on that either,” he said Friday at a Pentagon news briefing, Reuters reported.


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