JORDAN – United Arab Emirates fighter planes roared out of an air base in Jordan on Tuesday to pound Islamic State militant positions, marking a return to combat operations by one of the United States’ closest Arab allies in the fight against the extremists.
The Emirates’ decision to launch fresh airstrikes from the kingdom after a hiatus of more than a month was a strong show of support for Western-allied Jordan, which has vowed a punishing response to the militants’ killing of one of its pilots.
It also is likely to quiet concerns in Washington about the oil-rich Emirates’ commitment to the fight.
The seven-state federation, which includes Abu Dhabi and Dubai, stopped conducting airstrikes late last year after Jordanian Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh was captured when his plane crashed behind enemy lines, according to American officials. Al-Kaseasbeh was later burned alive in a cage by the militants.
American defense officials last week said they moved search-and-rescue aircraft closer to the battlefield, helping ease allies’ concerns about the coalition’s ability to aid downed pilots.[…]
The Emirates had not commented on the suspension of its airstrikes in December, and Tuesday’s statement was the first confirmation it had restarted combat operations. (read more)