U.S. Weighs Threat Of ISIS Flying Stolen Fighter Jets

Eyewitness reports from Syria indicate the Sunni extremist group ISIS has seized three fighter jets from the Syrian army.

U.S. Weighs Threat Of ISIS Flying Stolen Fighter Jets
Getty images / U.S. Navy

ISIS militants have gotten their hands on three MiG fighter jets along with training personnel who can teach the militants to fly them, according to reports Friday.

"The group says those planes are at the al-Jarrah military situated just east of Aleppo. The Observatory also says that former Iraqi military officers that have defected to ISIS are now teaching their Sunni extremists how to operate those planes." (Video via CNN)

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights broke the news. While speaking to several media outlets, the group reports witnesses have seen low-flying jets coming from the military airport. The Air Force Times reports the jets fly low to dodge Syrian army radar.

The Observatory suspects militants seized at least one plane from the Syrian army after a raid near the eastern province of Raqqa earlier this year. Several images showing militants posing with MiG aircraft have been circulated on pro-ISIS websites as well. (Video via The Guardian)

And that — the Guardian suggests — could mean "9/11-style suicide attacks" in Syria and Iraq. But what do ISIS fighter jets mean for U.S. control over Syrian airspace?

The Pentagon is still weighing its options. So far the Department of Defense has been kept in the dark about this report. The Independent says officials from U.S. Central Command had "'no information' that Iraqi pilots had joined Isis" and were "not aware of [ISIS] conducting any flight operations in Syria or elsewhere."

An ex-Navy pilot thinks the ISIS agents are capable of learning the flight system but says the group's new assets aren't as impressive or as useful against the U.S. as it might sound. She told Fox News the bottom line is: (Video via Daily Military Defense & War Archive)

"These are old jets. Three jets, John? I'd say don't bring a knife to a gunfight."

So far, U.S. fighter jets have not been met with any opposition in the skies. This week they've continued bombing runs in an effort to stop ISIS' advancement through the town of Kobani. At a press conference Gen. Lloyd Austin told reporters the efforts are "encouraging," but it's still possible the town could fall to the militants, according to Voice of America.

Keep in mind, ISIS' new fighter jets are only as good as the weapons they carry. The Observatory could neither confirm nor deny the planes were armed.

This video includes images from Getty Images and Rob Schleiffert / CC BY SA 2.0.