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CAIRO — The U.S. military says evidence shows the terror group ISIS did not shoot down a Jordanian F-16 fighter jet in Syria as fighters claimed, but said the aircraft crashed and the pilot has been taken captive by the group.
A statement from Jordan's military carried on state-run news agency Petra said the pilot was flying a mission against ISIS fighters in Syria when his plane crashed. It said the pilot was "taken hostage" by ISIS, adding that "Jordan holds the organization and those who support it responsible for the safety of the pilot and the preservation of his life.”
"Evidence clearly indicates that ISIL did not down the aircraft as the terrorist organization is claiming," U.S. Central Command said in a statement Wednesday, referring to another name used by the terror group that has seized territory in Iraq and Syria.
ISIS said it had shot down the Jordanian F-16 near Raqqa, and social media accounts linked to the militants posted pictures of the pilot and threatened his life. Images posted online by ISIS supporters purported to show the captured pilot, looking dazed and with a bloodied mouth, being herded from a body of water by militants. Social-media accounts linked to ISIS also posted pictures purporting to be the Jordanian pilot’s identification cards.
Jordan is one of the Arab partners in the U.S.-led coalition to defeat and degrade ISIS. The commander of U.S. Central Command, General Lloyd J. Austin III, said in a statement that, "We strongly condemn the actions of ISIL which has taken captive the downed pilot. We will support efforts to ensure his safe recovery, and will not tolerate ISIL's attempts to misrepresent or exploit this unfortunate aircraft crash for their own purposes."