x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Saudi prince flew jet in Syria ISIL attacks

Photographs released by the official Saudi Press Agency on Wednesday showed eight Saudi air force pilots, including Prince Khaled bin Salman, returning from the mission.

Air force pilot Prince Khaled bin Salman, a son of Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, sits in the cockpit of a fighter jet at an undisclosed location after returning from a mission to Syria. Courtesy Saudi Press Agency/AFP Photo
Air force pilot Prince Khaled bin Salman, a son of Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, sits in the cockpit of a fighter jet at an undisclosed location after returning from a mission to Syria. Courtesy Saudi Press Agency/AFP Photo
ABU DHABI // The son of Saudi Arabia's crown prince was among the pilots who carried out attacks against ISIL militants in northern Syria this week.

Photographs released by the official Saudi Press Agency yesterday showed eight Saudi air force pilots at an undisclosed location after returning from the mission.

The pilots included Prince Khaled bin Salman, son of Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Dressed in flight suits, the beaming pilots posed for a group photo in front of a fighter jet parked in an airplane hanger. Two of the pilots were also seen sitting in a two-man fighter jet, and there were additional shots of the pilots examining helmets and other equipment in a dressing room.

The fighter jet was marked with the crossed swords ensign of the Royal Saudi Air Force.

"My sons, the pilots, fulfilled their obligation toward their religion, their homeland and their king," SPA quoted Crown Prince Salman as saying.

He was "proud of the professionalism and bravery" of the Saudi air force men, he said.

Saudi Arabia, along with the United States, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan carried out the air strikes after forming a coalition along with dozens of other states to fight ISIL. Some of the countries only provided logistical support.

The release of the photographs underlined how Saudi Arabia is stepping up its public role in regional defence.

The kingdom and its religious leaders have been particularly vocal against the ISIL threat. Last month it hosted a conference in Jeddah to help build the coalition against the extremists.

jvela@thenational.ae