There was one successful day of bombing Izith before the jets began falling from the sky. When the first jet went down, officials reasoned it was likely some engine malfunction. When the second jet crossed into Izith’s airspace and fell in the same descent, the regime took notice. They ordered the third jet to make several passes around the perimeter of the rebel city, charting the surrounding airspace, gathering various readings, which were analyzed by a mission room full of senior officials and aviation experts. When the readings were assessed as normal, there was nothing left to do but proceed. The pilot was instructed to maintain constant communication, but as the jet lost altitude, the radio fell into static too. The last communication came moments before impact, the pilot’s even voice saying he had failed to eject.

After that, there were no further aerial incursions into Izith. They scorched the surrounding cities instead.

Continued in print issue: