Last updated: 10 February, 2015

UAE resumes air strikes against IS jihadists

The United Arab Emirates resumed air strikes on Tuesday against the Islamic State group which it had suspended after the jihadists captured a Jordanian pilot in December, the military said.

“Aircraft of the F-16 squadron based in Jordan launched raids this morning against positions of the Daesh (IS) terrorist organisation, hitting their targets and returning safely to base,” the UAE armed forces command said.

Jordan and the UAE are part of the US-led coalition that has been carrying out air strikes against IS since last year.

Monday’s statement did not say how many aircraft from the UAE squadron were in action, or where or what their targets were.

The squadron deployed to Jordan on Sunday to boost the kingdom’s fight against IS after the jihadists brutally murdered the captured pilot.

C-17 transporters and refuelling planes were also sent on the orders of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan as a show of solidarity.

“The initiative… reaffirms the UAE’s unwavering and constant solidarity with Jordan and its leading role and immense sacrifices for the security and stability of the region as embodied by martyr and hero Maaz al-Kassasbeh,” the UAE state news agency WAM said on Sunday.

Kassasbeh is the Jordanian pilot captured by IS when his plane crashed over northern Syria in December. The jihadists later burned him alive.

Following Kassasbeh’s murder, the UAE withdrew from the coalition’s strike missions over fears for the safety of its pilots.

The New York Times reported that the UAE wanted more to be done in terms of search and rescue of downed pilots in the conflict zones.

On Thursday, the US military said it had deployed aircraft and troops to northern Iraq to boost its ability to rescue downed coalition pilots.

A US official said on Friday, after Secretary of State John Kerry met Gulf ministers in Munich, that UAE flights were likely to resume “in a couple of days”.