February 7, 2015 10:24:39 pm
The United Arab Emirates said Saturday it ordered a squadron of F-16 fighters to Jordan, demonstrating support for Jordan’s pledge to hunt down Islamic State group militants and “wipe them out completely.”
It was not clear from the announcement, carried by the state news agency WAM, if Emirati aircraft will carry out air strikes against the Islamic State group from Jordan. Emirati and Jordanian officials were not immediately available for comment.
Both countries are members of a US-led military coalition against the militants, but US officials have said the UAE suspended its airstrikes late last year.
The UAE, which hosts air bases used by American and coalition partners, has not commented on suspending its strikes.
The UAE’s suspension of bombing missions came after a Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, crashed over Islamic State group-held territory in northern Syria in late December and was taken captive.
The militants recently released a video showing them burning the airman to death while he was trapped in a cage. The images angered Jordan and the region.
Jordan has pledged harsh retaliation and said it would intensify air strikes against Islamic State targets. Starting Thursday, Jordanian fighter jets have carried out daily attacks, according to the military and state media.
Jordan’s interior minister, Hussein al-Majali, said al-Kaseasbeh’s killing was a turning point for Jordan. He told the state-run al-Rai newspaper in comments published Saturday that Jordan will go after the militants “wherever they are.”
The most recent airstrikes are “the beginning of a continued process to eliminate them and wipe them out completely,” he said of the militants who control about a third of neighboring Syria and Iraq.
The heightened confrontation has raised concerns about possible Islamic State group attacks in Jordan.
The minister said security services have a tight grip and are ready for “anyone who wants to interfere in the security of Jordan.” He urged Jordans to report suspicious behavior, particular in neighborhoods with large numbers of non-Jordanians.
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