The U.S. delivered eight Black Hawk helicopters Thursday to Jordan, just days after Jordanian authorities carried out a deadly raid against Islamist State group militants near the border with Syria, the Jordan Times reported. The shipment was intended to help “provide Jordan with another tool for safeguarding its frontiers,” U.S. Ambassador Alice G. Wells said during a ceremony held as the UH 60A Black Hawks arrived.
“I do not have to tell this group about the sheer number of incursions the Border Guard forces thwart; almost nightly the Border Guard troops repel incursions,” Wells said. “Yesterday, we all commemorated the heroism of Major Rashed Zyoud, who gave his life defeating Daesh terrorists,” she said, using an Arabic acronym for the extremist group, also known as ISIS.
Jordan is considered a critical regional ally in the fight against terrorism. Since February last year, the U.S. has reportedly delivered upwards of 26,000 weapons, more than 3 million rounds of ammunition and hundreds of bombs. Wells said the U.S. wanted to ensure the Jordanian military was able to continue to respond quickly to threats along its border.
— Al-Masdar News (@TheArabSource) March 3, 2016
Jordanian officers stormed a three-story residential building earlier this week to arrest members of an extremist cell hiding out in the northern city of Irdib. The soldiers were met by heavily armed men wrapped in explosive belts. Seven alleged ISIS members and one Jordanian officer were killed in the ensuing gun battle.
ISIS’ grizzly killing of a young Jordanian pilot on video last year prompted calls for the kingdom to more aggressively tackle the extremist threat. Since then, Jordan has been heavily involved in a campaign against ISIS and has arrested a number of members within its borders.
A military general, Jaber Abbadi, offered thanks during the ceremony for U.S. support. A U.S. official, who spoke with the Jordan Times on condition of anonymity, said the helicopters were a “no-cost lease to Jordan” and were the same helicopters used by the U.S. military.
Eight more helicopters, worth some $200 million, were set to be shipped next year.