AMMAN, Jordan (AP) – Jordan has launched 56 airstrikes against Islamic State group weapons depots, training centers and military barracks since militants released a video of them burning a Jordanian pilot to death, Jordan’s air force chief said Sunday.
Jordanian officials have said they would retaliate harshly for the slaying of the pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, who was set ablaze while trapped in a cage.
Since Thursday, the Jordanian air force has attacked and destroyed 56 Islamic State targets, the air force chief, Gen. Mansour al-Jabour, told reporters. This includes 19 targets on the first day, 18 on the second and 19 on the third, he said.
“We achieved what we were looking for: revenge for Muath,” the general said. “And this is not the end. This is the beginning.”
In recent days, Jordanian officials have delivered tough warnings to Islamic State, saying the retaliation campaign would not stop until the group has been destroyed.
The United States and several Arab allies, including Jordan, have been striking the Islamic State group in Syria since Sept. 23, while warplanes from the U.S. and other countries have been waging an air campaign against the extremists in Iraq for even longer. The campaign aims to push back the jihadi organization after it took large parts of Iraq and Syria and declared a “caliphate.”
Al-Jabour said coalition planes have flown 5,500 sorties since the beginning of the air campaign, including 2,000 reconnaissance flights. He did not say whether this included flights over both Syria and Iraq. He said Jordan’s air force participated in 946 sorties.
The general said about 7,000 Islamic State group militants have been killed since the beginning of the coalition airstrikes, without elaborating.
Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have been participating in the Syria airstrikes, with logistical support from Qatar.
U.S. officials have said that the UAE suspended airstrikes after the capture of the Jordanian pilot. The UAE announced Saturday it was sending a squadron of F-16 fighters to Jordan.
The Emiratis did not say what role the planes would play. A Jordanian official said they would participate in airstrikes.