The United Arab Emirates has suspended all combat air missions over Syria because U.S. search-and-rescue teams were unable to reach and rescue a Jordanian pilot who was burned to death in an ISIS video released this week, senior U.S. defense and military officials told NBC News on Wednesday.
The pilot, Lt. Muath al Kasasbeh, was on a bombing run over Syria in December when he was forced to eject near Raqqa, ISIS' self-proclaimed capital. It wasn't clear Wednesday whether search-and-rescue assets were in the immediate area when Kasasbeh went down, but officials told NBC News that he was captured so quickly — "within minutes" — that a rescue wouldn't have been possible.
The UAE is part of a coalition with Jordan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia that has conducted 79 airstrikes in Syria. U.S. officials said the UAE military would not resume its combat flights until search-and-rescue teams assets in northern Iraq — which could include combat air cover, helicopters and Osprey tilt-rotor helicopters — are moved closer to Syria.