AMMAN, Feb 7 (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates is sending a squadron of F16 jet fighters to Jordan to conduct air strikes against Islamic State alongside Jordanian planes, an army source in Amman said.
Jordan launched bombing raids against the jihadist group’s positions in Syria and Iraq on Thursday in response to its brutal killing of a captured Jordanian pilot.
The UAE, meanwhile, has suspended flights as part of the U.S.-led coalition conducting air strikes against Islamic State in view of concerns about search and rescue capabilities after the pilot was downed.
UAE fighters would now join raids from inside Jordan, the source said.
“This is a big boost and will be helping our (Gulf) brothers shorten their flying distances and intensify strikes against the militants,” the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
UAE state news agency WAM said the Gulf country had ordered a squadron of F16s to support the Jordanian armed forces.
But it did not specify whether the aircraft would be carrying out air strikes from Jordan.
A U.S. state department official said on Friday the UAE had reaffirmed its commitment to the air strike coalition and there would be “positive news on the flight issues” in coming days.
Jordanian military experts say the ability of the kingdom to sustain its air strikes would come under strain in coming days given the 40 mid-life F16 jets the air force has at its disposal.
Being based in Jordan would cut flying distances for the UAE plans to territory in north eastern Syria under the control of Islamic State, defence sources in Amman said.
Jordan carried out air strikes for the third day running on Saturday, mainly targeting the jihadist group’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, a security source said. (Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; editing by John Stonestreet)
SOURCE: MAIL ONLINE