The U.S.-led coalition battling against ISIS pounded the extremists' stronghold of Raqqa with more than a dozen airstrikes late Thursday, according to The Associated Press and a local activist group. The Syrian city faced the heaviest barrage since a Jordanian pilot was captured when his jet crashed on December 24, Cairo-based AP journalist John Gambrell said on Twitter. An anti-ISIS activist group based in the city, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, said it was an "unusually intense aerial campaign" of at least 13 airstrikes. The group also posted audio on Twitter of what it said was warplanes flying overhead.
Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh's warplane came down near Raqqa, which is ISIS' de facto capital. There was also an unconfirmed report by Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently that coalition helicopter gunships failed in an attempt to rescue hostages near the city on Thursday. The report, which could not be verified by NBC News, said the aircraft were unable to land because they came under direct fire from ISIS militants.
- Alexander Smith
The Associated Press contributed to this report.