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US rejects claim Islamic State shot down Jordanian jet

Washington cites evidence against fighter being downed by jihadists, but confirms pilot taken captive by terror group

A picture released by the Islamic State purporting to show members of the group holding a captive Jordanian pilot. Wednesday, December 24, 2014 (screen capture: YouTube)
A picture released by the Islamic State purporting to show members of the group holding a captive Jordanian pilot. Wednesday, December 24, 2014 (screen capture: YouTube)

WASHINGTON — The United States dismissed Wednesday a claim by the Islamic State jihadist group that it had shot down a Jordanian F-16 fighter flying with US-led coalition forces, which crashed in eastern Syria.

“Evidence clearly indicates that [the Islamic State] did not down the aircraft as the terrorist organization is claiming,” said US Central Command, the body overseeing the coalition air war over Iraq and Syria.

The statement did not give a cause for the “crash,” and confirmed the lost jet’s Jordanian pilot had been taken captive by IS guerrillas.

“We strongly condemn the actions of [the Islamic State], which has taken captive the downed pilot,” said CentCom commander General Lloyd Austin.

“We will support efforts to ensure his safe recovery, and will not tolerate [the Islamic State’s] attempts to misrepresent or exploit this unfortunate aircraft crash for their own purposes.”

“The Jordanians are highly respected and valued partners and their pilots and crews have performed exceptionally well over the course of this campaign,” he added.

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