ISIL fighters 'trained to fly warplanes' in Syria

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ISIL fighters 'trained to fly warplanes' in Syria

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Reports have emerged that members of ISIL have been trained to pilot three captured fighter jets in Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said witnesses reported the planes were flown around the military airport in Aleppo, it is unknown whether the jets are equipped with functioning weapons. The insurgents were said to be trained by Saddam Hussein’s former pilots.

The US military said it was unaware of any flight operations in Syria or elsewhere.

The group have regularly captured weaponry from Syrian and Iraqi armies, but this would be the first time they have piloted warplanes.

Meanwhile, the insurgents are edging towards Baghdad. Iraqi security forces have launched offensives across three sectors of Anbar province to the west.

On the Syrian front, there has been no let-up in the fight for Kobani. The US forces said that two days of intensive airstrikes on the militants are having an impact on their advance, but added that the campaign will take time.

Kurdish fighters on the ground are reporting that they are seizing back ground from ISIL for the first time since the assault began four weeks ago. They said airstrikes did make a difference but asked for reinforcements and weapons to consolidate their gains.

The fate of Kobani has now become a key part of the fight against ISIL.