A senior minister in Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime acknowledged for the first time that Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists have seized Syrian fighter jets, and are training on how to maneuver the combat planes.
Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, revealed last Friday that defected Iraqi airforce pilots had been training ISIS fighters to fly the planes at the seized base.
According to al-Zoubi, Syrian jets took down two of the planes as they returned to land at the base, and currently the third is being hunted for, reports Walla!.
"These are old planes, there's no reason to worry about them," claimed al-Zoubi.
Video footage last week surfaced, supposedly showing an Aero L-39 Albatros high-performance jet trainer taking off from the al-Jarrah base captured by ISIS. The model reportedly was the same as jets seen in early video footage documenting ISIS's seizure of the base.
However, Rahman reported that the three jets seen flown there were of the MiG 21 or 23 model; in August ISIS captured several of the Russian-made MiGs when it took Tabqa airbase in northern Syria.
The US apparently has been out of the loop regarding ISIS's new "air force".
A spokesperson of the US Army's Central Command was quoted responding to the recent reports as saying "we are not aware" of ISIS using fighter jets in Syria or elsewhere.
America has hit some setbacks with its aerial campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, despite succeeding in helping Kurds to drive them out of Kobane in northern Syria. A recent airdrop of weapons to Kurdish forces defending Kobane were documented in a video to have fallen into ISIS hands.