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Jordan F-16s strike ISIS targets and honor dead pilot's family

February 6, 2015 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Twenty Jordanian F-16s carried out their first air strikes on Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria since the militants released a video showing the captured Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage. On their way back, they flew over the hometown of pilot Mouath al-Kasaesbeh to pay tribute.

RJAF F-16A ADF #225 from 2 sqn is coming in for landing after an exercise in April of 2014. [ photo by Kevin Wills]

Their flight coincided with a visit to the village by Jordanian King Abdullah II, who was meeting the pilot's family. The king has vowed to the step up the fight against ISIS and bring severe retaliation on them until Jordan runs "out of fuel and bullets."

For King Abdullah, the gruesome death of one of his pilots is extremely personal as he is a military pilot and special operations officer himself. "The blood of martyr Muath al-Kaseasbeh will not be in vain and the response of Jordan and its army after what happened to our dear son will be severe," said King Abdullah in a statement released by the royal court on Wednesday

Jordan is part of a US-led coalition bombing the militants. Thursday's targets would normally have been attacked by a variety of aircraft in the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, but the operation was "handed over" to the Jordanians in deference to the pilot's horrific killing. U.S. Air Force flew air refuellers and radar jammers in support though.

Jordanian state-run media did not specify where the strikes took place, but U.S. officials told the strikes by 20 Jordanian F-16s took place at Thursday at 13.00h local time near the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria, and said “lots of ammunition” was expended.

Additional images:

A pilot from the Royal Jordanian Air Force prepares for takeoff during a scramble competition at Exercise Eager Tiger May 12th, 2014 at an air base in northern Jordan. After the scramble, pilots from both the U.S. and Jordan took to the sky to participate in joint flying operations. (USAF photo by SSgt. Brigitte N. Brantley)

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