Hunting ISIS's Mystery Planes

While Syrian officials seem sure the two planes were wiped out, others remain uncertain.

U.S.-led coalition aircraft flying over Kobanii, as seen near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

Concerns about ISIS's future plans mounted last week when the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters that the Islamic State had access to three captured military jets, which they were using to train militants. Though it was unclear if these planes were capable of carrying weapons, they were reportedly seen on low-altitude, short training missions over Syria. The United States did not independently confirm the existence of the planes at that time, nor issue statement on claims that ex-Iraqi military members were piloting the terrorist aircrafts.

ISIS has released numerous videos claiming they plan to attack and take over foreign nations, such as the United States and United Kingdom, and while these threats are far-fetched, the addition of planes to their terrorist arsenal did raise concerns. As did the failed airdrop of weapons intended to arm Kurdish fighters that ended up in the hands of the Islamic State instead.

The good news is that Syrian officials claimed on Wednesday that two of the three jets operated by the Islamic State have been destroyed. In an interview with Syrian TV, Syrian information minister Omran al-Zoubi noted the two jets had been bombed while landing on a runway at the Jarrah air base. The third plane, however, was "hidden" and Assad's air force is continuing the hunt for it. The Associated Press noted al-Zoubi seemed unconcerned by the remaining plane, claiming it is old and there is "no reason to worry about them."

While Syrian officials seem sure the two planes were wiped out, others remain uncertain. Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told the International Business Times that his organization could not yet confirm the planes had been bombed and destroyed by Syrian forces.