The United Arab Emirates has joined forces with Jordan to launch airstrikes against Islamic State militants, the country’s state media reported Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. The announcement follows the deployment of a squadron of UAE fighter planes to a Jordanian air base over the weekend as part of an effort to help the kingdom in its fight against the militant group.
Fears over the safety of its pilots led the UAE, a key member of the U.S.-led coalition against the militant group also known as ISIS, to suspend its participation in airstrikes after militants captured Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kasasbeh, who was shown being burned alive in a gruesome video released by the group last week. Following a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Gulf ministers in Munich Friday, however, the UAE’s government indicated that it would be rejoining the fight, reported VOA.
A squadron of F-16 fighter jets along with UAE pilots and technicians arrived at a Jordanian air base Sunday, and the UAE team stood ready “to carry out any mission in coordination with the Jordanian armed forces,” squadron chief Saeed Hassan said, According to Agence France-Presse. Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan also ordered that C-17 transporters and refuelling planes be sent as part of the squadron to Jordan as a show of solidarity with the country, which has been in mourning since the death of Kasasbeh.
The UAE’s official state news agency WAM announced Saturday that the fighter jet deployment was part of the Gulf nation’s “deep belief in the need for Arab collective cooperation to eliminate terrorism,” reported Al Arabiya. The UAE and Jordan are among the Arab nations supporting the U.S.-led coalition, which has carried out hundreds of raids against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq since August after the militant group seized significant swathes of territory in the region.