7 Feb 2015

Jordan’s revenge: 60 airstrikes target Islamic State

Jordan carries out a third day of airstrikes against Islamic State targets as it “avenges” the murder of a Jordanian pilot who was burned to death by the jihadist group.

The kingdom launched airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Syria and Iraq on Thursday. On Saturday the government reported that “sorties of air force fighters bombed (Islamic State) bases”.

A security official told Reuters that Jordan had conducted 60 raids over three days, mostly targeting the Syrian stronghold of Raqqa. They had hit targets including ammunition depots, training camps and a communications tower, the official said.

On Friday the US Central Command released videos of recent airstrikes against the Islamic State group (videos above and throughout).

Read more: Jordan ramps up air strikes and vows to 'eradicate' IS

Jordan also announced on Saturday that the United Arab Emirates were sending a squadron of F16 jet fighters to help intensify the campaign.

The fighter jets, which will be based in Jordan, are “a big boost and will be helping our brothers shorten their flying distances and intensify strikes against the militants from Jordan”, an army source said.

Jordan’s King Abdullah vowed this week to avenge pilot Mouath al-Kasaesbeh’s brutal killing. The Islamic State group released a video of him being burned alive in a cage.

The airstrikes also follow claims by the Islamic State that a US citizen, Kayla Mueller, who was an Islamic State hostage, was killed in a Jordanian airstrike.

Ms Mueller’s parents Carl and Marsha said on Friday that they were “still hopeful” that their daughter may be alive, and urged the Islamic State group to contact them.

Jordan has dismissed the allegation. A government spokesman said: “We are looking into it but our first reaction is that we think it is illogical and we are highly sceptical about it… It’s part of their criminal propaganda.”

The US-led coalition said on Saturday that it had launched 26 airstrikes against IS over the past 24 hours as a part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Fifteen airstrikes targeted IS positions in Iraq and 11 were in Syria, with nine of those around the city of Kobani which was recaptured by Kurdish troops last month.

The Combined Joint task Force said the Kobani strikes hit seven IS tactical units and destroyed five vehicles around the city, where the group is still located.