ISIS checkpoint north of Mosul
ISIS checkpoint north of Mosul Reuters

The father of the Jordanian pilot captured by the Islamic State (ISIS) group appealed Saturday to the group to treat his son well and with respect, reports The Associated Press (AP).

The pilot, 1st Lt. Moaz al-Kassasbeh, was taken captive on December 24 after his F-16 fighter jet crashed near the extremists' de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria.

The 26-year-old Jordanian is the first known foreign military pilot to fall into the group’s hands since the international coalition began its aerial campaign against ISIS in September.

Speaking to reporters from his home village of Aii in central Jordan, the pilot's father, Safi Yousef al-Kassasbeh, said Saturday that he is "confident" that his son is "in safe hands in a place where he is respected."

"I want to tell our brothers in the Islamic State that [Moaz] is your son same as he is our son," al-Kassasbeh said, according to AP. "My message to them on this day, the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed, is that they treat him in a good way, and to treat him as a guest."

The younger al-Kassasbeh was carrying out airstrikes against ISIS when his warplane went down.

While ISIS claimed that it had shot down al-Kassasbeh’s plane, the United States said that was not true, though it did confirm the pilot had been taken captive by ISIS.

In its monthly magazine, ISIS published what it said was an interview with al-Kassasbeh in which the pilot says he was shot down by a heat-seeking missile. That version contradicts statements from the United States.

Other than the purported interview, there has been no word on al-Kassasbeh or his fate.

On Friday, there were reports that the international coalition had launched a military operation to save al-Kassasbeh, but that mission failed when heavy fire prevented the helicopters from entering the area safely to make the rescue. 

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