Jordan says it has carried out 56 air strikes against Isis
Air force chief claims destruction of 19 targets, as US says Iraqi troops are set to start major ground offensive against jihadists
An image grab taken from Jordanian TV said to show flames erupting from a building hit by an air strike against Isis. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images
Agence France-Presse in Amman
Sunday 8 February 2015 22.59 EST
has announced it has carried out 56 air strikes on Isis in recent days, as a top US envoy said Iraqi troops would begin a major ground offensive against the jihadists in the weeks ahead.
Jordanian air force chief Major General Mansour al-Jobour said on Sunday the kingdom had launched the 56 air raids since Thursday as part of an international assault against Isis that Washington says is beginning to bite.
Jordan has vowed an “earth-shattering” response after the Sunni extremists captured one of its air force pilots, Maaz al-Kassasbeh, burned him alive and released a gruesome video of the execution.
“On the first day of the campaign to avenge our airman Maaz al-Kassasbeh, 19 targets were destroyed, including training camps and equipment,” Jobour told reporters.
John Allen, the US co-ordinator for the anti-Isis coalition of western and Arab countries, said on Sunday that Iraqi troops would begin a major ground offensive against the jihadists “in the weeks ahead”.
“When the Iraqi forces begin the ground campaign to take back Iraq
, the coalition will provide major firepower associated with that,” he told Jordan’s official Petra news agency, stressing that the Iraqis would lead the offensive.
Isis has seized swaths of Iraq and Syria
, ruling the territory with a brutal form of Islam.
Jordan has vowed to crush the group after it released a highly choreographed video showing the murder of its pilot, who was captured in December when his F-16 warplane went down in Syria.
The air force chief said air strikes since last Thursday had destroyed dozens of targets, including barracks, training camps, ammunition and fuel depots, and residential centres.
“So far, the campaign has destroyed 20% of the fighting capabilities of Daesh,” Jobour said, using another name for Isis.
Jobour said more than 7,000 Isis militants had been killed since Jordan began participating in coalition air strikes.
The US secretary of state, John Kerry, said the aerial campaign, launched in September, was beginning to win back territory and deprive the jihadists of key funds.
There have been 2,000 air strikes on Isis since the coalition’s formation in August, Kerry told a security conference in the German city of Munich.
The air war had helped to retake about 270 square miles of territory, or “one-fifth of the area they had in their control”, he said.
The top US diplomat did not specify whether the regained territory was in Iraq or Syria.
But he added the coalition had “deprived the militants of the use of 200 oil and gas facilities... disrupted their command structure... squeezed its finance and dispersed its personnel”.
State media reported that a squadron of United Arab Emirates F-16 fighter jets arrived in Jordan on Sunday, escorted by pilots and technicians.
The UAE had withdrawn from the coalition’s strike missions after the Jordanian pilot’s capture over fears for the safety of its own airmen.
But the US had said on Friday that UAE flights were likely to resume “in a couple of days”.
C-17 transporters and refuelling planes were part of the UAE squadron sent on the orders of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the Petra news agency said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said on Sunday that Kurdish forces had retaken from Isis more than a third of the villages around Kobane, a strategic town on the Syrian-Turkish border.
The Kurds recaptured Kobane on 26 January after four months of fierce fighting backed by Syrian rebels and coalition air strikes.
© 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.