Centcom Boss Says Air Threats Over Syria are Minimal

US Central Command boss Army Gen. Lloyd Austin downplayed reports of ISIS flying fighter aircraft over Syria during a briefing with reporters at the Pentagon on Friday. “We don’t have any operational reporting on ISIS flying jets,” Austin said. He declined to comment on whether former Iraqi pilots who defected to ISIS were helping train new pilots from the terrorist group. However, he did say the Syrian air force has “not challenged us since we began flying.” A Centcom official speaking on background told Air Force Magazine that US officials’ assessment of the ground threat to aircraft is fairly minimal in most of the country. The official also noted the initial waves of airstrikes targeted both areas in the east and the more populous western part of the country, where air defenses are more built up. But since the initial waves, most strikes have focused on the eastern and northern portion of Syria, such as the region around Kobani. The official would not confirm or deny the continued use of the F-22, but Air Staff officials have said it has flown in sorties since the first wave of strikes. (Austin transcript.)