Jordan vows to free captured pilot from ISIL

Government promises to do its best to have its air force pilot released a day after he was taken hostage by armed group.

Jordanian officials have called al-Kassasbeh a symbol of heroism and sacrifice [Al Jazeera]

Jordan’s government has said  it will do all it can to release its air force pilot captured by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant after the plane he was flying came down.

Jordanian King Abdullah on Wednesday met General Mashal al-Zaben, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to discuss the issue.

Maaz Safi Yousef Al Kassasbeh, the 26-year-old pilot, was captured by ISIL on Wednesday when his plane went down in Syria.

The F-16 warplane had crashed during a Jordanian air force “military mission against the hideouts of the terrorist group,” said a statement read out on state television, referring to ISIL.

The plane was allegedly shot down during a mission; both the ISIL and a monitoring group said it had been shot with an anti-aircraft missile.

Although ISIL said it shot down the fighter jet near its northern stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, the US rejected that claim, saying it crashed.

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The US military and Jordan’s government spokesman, Mohammad al-Momani, said there was no indication that the plane had been shot down by ISIL fighters.

“We initially thought the plane might have been shot at, but we cannot confirm this now,” Al-Momani said.

He also said the government would take every necessary step needed in order to secure the pilot’s return to his home and family. 

Abdullah has been getting regular updates on the situation. His officials called Al-Kassasbeh a symbol of heroism and sacrifice.

Along with the Jordanian government, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his concern over the pilot. He called on the captors to treat the hostage in accordance with international humanitarian laws.

Ban urged “all sides to find a durable solution to the conflict”.

Al-Kassasbeh’s father, Safi Yousef, appealed to the captors to show mercy and release his son.

Jordan is one of the countries participating in the US-led coalition which has been bombing ISIL targets in Syria since September.

This is the first time the armed group has captured anyone fighting for the US-led coalition.