Islamic State Terrorists in Russian Jets: 'Putin, You're Next'
Islamic State terrorists fresh from the conquest of the last Syrian military base in the north of the country sent a "special message" to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, as well as his key ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Tabqa airbase was taken after prolonged and intensive fighting which left hundreds of Islamic State and pro-regime forces dead. Its conquest meant that the Islamic State now controls all of Syria's northern Raqqa Province, as well as much of the northeast of the country.
After finally taking the base, the Islamic State released a video showing the mass execution of some 250 regime fighters, who were first ordered to march through the desert stripped to their underwear. Jihadis also circulated pictures of heavy weaponry and Russian-made MiG fighter jets they had seized.
In a video dated August 31, a group of Arab IS fighters address Assad directly from inside a hangar in the base.
"You'd better watch out Bashar - we're coming for you in planes!" declares one terrorist from atop a captured Russian aircraft. "We'll be coming for you from the skies, with these planes, Allah willing."
"Brace yourself for what's coming, you pig."
A second, young fighter then addresses Putin, whose military and political support has been crucial in keeping Assad in power.
"Vladimir Putin, these are the Russian planes that you sent to Bashar. Allah willing, we will take them back to your own turf, and liberate Chechnya and the Caucasus, Allah willing... Your throne is being threatened by us," he said.
It is unclear, however, if any IS fighters currently know how to operate such aircraft, or indeed if the planes themselves - which appear somewhat aged - are operational at all or obsolete. Indeed, it is thought that all operational aircraft were removed from the base before it was hastily evacuated last week.
Either way, the loss of Tabqa is a severe blow to the regime not just in terms of territory, morale and manpower, but also insofar as the base was key in providing air-support to its thinly-stretched forces in the north of the country - both against IS and other rebel groups.