Airstrikes kill ISIS militants as revenge by Jordanians after pilot’s death

February 5, 2015 5:24 pm
Amman was “more
determined than ever to fight the terrorist group Daesh.” And a
government spokesman said Jordan would step up its role in the U.S.-led
fight against the militant group.

King Abdullah cut short a visit to Washington, returning to his country where he held emergency talks with his military.

Planes belonging to the Jordanian Royal Air Force fly over the
headquarters of the family clan of pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh in the city
of Karak Feb. 4, 2015. (Reuters)

Jordanian fighter jets flew over the hometown of a pilot killed by
Islamic State of and () group and the capital Amman on
Thursday after completing a mission, state television said without
giving the location of their sortie, Reuters reported.
However,
Iraqi media said that the Jordanian airstrikes have killed 55 ISIS
militants including a senior commander known as the “Prince of Nineveh.”
Jordan’s
‘severe’ response to ISIS after it killed an air force pilot by burning
him alive, came just hours after King Abdullah vowed to avenge Maaz
al-Kassasbeh’s death.
“The blood of martyr Maaz al-Kassasbeh will
not be in vain and the response of Jordan and its army after what
happened to our dear son will be severe,” Said King Abdullah in a
statement released by the royal court on Wednesday.
Jordan had
previously been divided on its participation in airstrikes against ISIS,
with many question why the country was involving itself in the fight.
But it was a divide that largely vanished after the revelation of Kassasbeh’s brutal execution.
Jordan’s
information minister, Mohammad al-Momani told AFP: Amman was “more
determined than ever to fight the terrorist group Daesh.” And a
government spokesman said Jordan would step up its role in the U.S.-led
fight against the militant group.
King Abdullah cut short a visit to Washington, returning to his country where he held emergency talks with his military.
But
before his return to the he met with President Barack
Obama, who slammed the pilot’s killing as an act of “cowardice and
depravity,” and he offered the king “his deepest condolences” White
House spokesman, Alistair Baskey said.
Meanwhile Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said radical Islam’s “cruelty knows no
borders, the greatest threat to humanity would be if these extremists
get their hands on nuclear weapons,” referring to Iran’s nuclear
program.
The airstrikes came just hours after Jordan executed two militant prisoners in response to the killing of Kassasbeh.

But the pilot’s father told Reuters the two executions were not enough
to avenge his son’s death, adding: “I want the state to get revenge for
my son’s blood through more executions of those people who follow this
criminal group that shares nothing with Islam.” Safi al-Kassasbeh told
Reuters.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II (L) greeting Safi, the father of Jordanian
pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh. Main photo, a Jordanian jet returns from
bombing Isis targets. Photo / AFP, AP

The military said “dozens of jet fighters” struck Isis targets
overnight, “hitting training camps of the terrorist groups as well as
weapons and ammunition warehouses.”
It did not say where the
targets were located — Isis holds swathes of Syria and Iraq — but said
they were destroyed and the aircraft returned to base safely.

Jordan’s military pledged to “destroy this terrorist group
and kill the evil in its own place”, saying it would punish Isis “for
the heinous act” of burning the pilot alive.
Personifying the
nation’s grief and deep anger over the horrifying murder, Abdullah
visited the airman’s family, which has urged the government to “destroy”
the jihadists, to pay his condolences.

An image grab taken from the Jordanian TV on February 5, 2015 shows flames erupting from a building hit by an airstrike against Islamic State. Photo / AFP
An image grab taken from the
Jordanian TV on February 5, 2015 shows flames erupting from a building
hit by an airstrike against Islamic State. Photo / AFP Jordan has conducted regular raids against Isis across the border in
Syria as part of a US-led campaign against the Sunni extremist group.
More
than 200,000 people have died since anti-government protests erupted in
Syria in early 2011, escalating into a multi-sided civil war that
brought jihadists streaming into the country.

Jawdat al-Kaseasbeh, a brother of slain Jordanians pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh, reacts to people gathering to show their support for the government against Isis. Photo / AP
Jawdat al-Kaseasbeh, a brother of
slain Jordanians pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh, reacts to people gathering to
show their support for the government against Isis. Photo / AP
At least 66 people, including 12 children, were
killed by regime air strikes and shelling on rebel areas around Damascus
Thursday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The
assault on the Eastern Ghouta region came after rebels fired more than
100 rockets at the city, killing 10 people including a child, the
Britain-based group said.

 The gruesome murder of Maaz al-Kassasbeh, captured by Isis in
December after his F-16 crashed in Syria, has increased support in
Jordan for stepped-up military action against the jihadists.
“Jordan
will wage all-out war to protect our principles and values,” government
newspaper Al-Rai wrote in an editorial. “We are on the lookout for this
band of criminals.”
The execution has sparked outrage in Jordan and protests in Amman and Karak, bastion of Kassasbeh’s influential tribe.
Solidarity demonstrations with the family are planned for nationwide after Friday’s weekly Muslim prayers.
Abdullah cut short a US visit and returned to Amman after the video of Kassasbeh’s killing emerged.

A Jordanian Air Force fighter jet flies over the village of Ai as Jordanian King Abdullah II visits to offer his condolences to the tribe of the slain Jordanian pilot. Photo / AP
A Jordanian Air Force fighter jet
flies over the village of Ai as visits to
offer his condolences to the tribe of the slain Jordanian pilot. Photo /
AP
“The blood of martyr Maaz al-Kassasbeh will not be in
vain and the response of Jordan and its army after what happened to our
dear son will be severe,” he said afterwards.
On Wednesday, in
response, Jordan executed two Iraqis on death row — female would-be
suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi and Al-Qaeda operative Ziad al-Karboli.
Abdullah
travelled Thursday 120 kilometres south of Amman to Karak, where a
traditional mourning tent was set up for Kassasbeh’s family to receive
guests.
Hundreds of people, including representatives of the
military and civilians, gathered as the king, wearing a red and white
checked keffiyeh, sat next to the 26-year-old first lieutenant’s father.

Jan. 27, 2015 file photo, the mother of Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh holds a picture of her son. Photo / AP
Jan. 27, 2015 file photo, the mother of Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh holds a picture of her son. Photo / AP

– ‘Infidels and ’ –

Safi
al-Kassasbeh branded Isis “infidels and terrorists who know no humanity
or human rights”, and said the “international community must destroy”
the group.
Isis had offered to spare Kassasbeh’s life and free
Japanese journalist Kenji Goto — who was later beheaded — in exchange
for Rishawi’s release.
Rishawi, 44, was sentenced to death for her role in triple hotel bombings in Amman in 2005 that killed 60 people.
She was closely linked to Isis’ predecessor organisation in Iraq, and was seen as an important symbol for the jihadists.
Jordanian
television suggested Kassasbeh was killed on January 3, before IS
offered to spare him and free Goto in return for Rishawi’s release.
Following
the airman’s capture, another member of the US-led coalition, the
United Arab Emirates, withdrew from air strike missions over fears for
the safety of its pilots, a US official said.
“I can confirm that
UAE suspended air strikes shortly after the Jordanian pilot’s plane
went down,” the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity,
but stressed the UAE’s continuing “important and valuable” role in the
coalition.
US President Barack Obama, who had hosted Abdullah in a
hastily organised meeting before his return to Jordan, decried the
“cowardice and depravity” of Isis.
Benjamin Netanyahu also extended his condolences to the king in a phone call on Thursday, the Israeli premier’s office said.
Isis
had previously beheaded two US journalists, an American aid worker and
two British aid workers in similar videos. It has also killed a second
Japanese hostage.

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