Thousands march in Jordan’s capital for a captured pilot burned alive by the Islamic State group, as the government vows to intensify its fight against the jihadists. Duration: 00:50
Angry Jordanians react to death of pilot in mass protest
Jordan’s Queen joins thousands in rally for slain pilot
/ Amman (Jordan) – 06 February 2015 15:09 – AFP (Mussa Hattar) / WRAP – UPDATE
ADDS protest details, quote, background
Thousands including Queen Rania marched in Jordan’s capital Friday for a captured pilot burned alive by the Islamic State group, as the government vowed to intensify its fight against the jihadists.
The military said “dozens of jet fighters” struck IS targets on Thursday, hitting militant training camps as well as weapons and ammunition depots.
Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told CNN the operation was “the beginning of our retaliation over this horrific and brutal murder of our brave young pilot.”
IS earlier this week released a highly choreographed video of the horrifying murder of pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, whose death has sparked grief and deep anger in Jordan.
Thousands marched in Amman on Friday in a show of solidarity for the murdered pilot.
Wearing a black suit and a red-and-white checked keffiyeh, Rania joined protesters after weekly prayers at the Al-Husseini mosque in central Amman, waving Jordanian flags and pictures of Kassasbeh.
“We are all Maaz… We are all Jordan,” the crowd chanted.
Placards were also held aloft that read: “Yes to punishment. Yes to the eradication of terrorism.”
“We are here to express our anger. We are all soldiers… ready to avenge the pilot,” protester Youssef Al-Soud told AFP.
Rania had called in November for redoubled efforts in the anti-IS offensive which she said was a “fight for the Middle East and Islam”.
Judeh declined to reveal Jordan’s military plans but said it would hit the militants with all its might.
“We’re upping the ante. We’re going after them wherever they are, with everything that we have,” he said.
“We’re going to go after them and we will eradicate them… We are at the forefront. This is our fight.”
American F-16 and F-22 jets provided security to the Jordanian fighter planes, with additional support from refuelling tankers and surveillance aircraft, US officials said.
– World ‘must destroy’ IS –
On Thursday, King Abdullah II visited Kassasbeh’s family, which has urged the government to “destroy” the jihadists, to pay his condolences.
Safi al-Kassasbeh branded IS “infidels and terrorists who know no humanity or human rights”, and said the “international community must destroy” the group.
Abdullah cut short a US visit and returned to Amman after the video of Kassasbeh’s killing emerged.
On Wednesday, in response, Jordan executed two Iraqis on death row — female would-be suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi and Al-Qaeda operative Ziad al-Karboli.
IS had offered to spare Kassasbeh’s life and free Japanese journalist Kenji Goto — who was later beheaded — in exchange for Rishawi.
Jordanian television suggested Kassasbeh was killed on January 3, before IS offered to spare him and free Goto in return for Rishawi’s release.
Following the airman’s capture, another member of the US-led coalition, the United Arab Emirates, withdrew from air strike missions over fears for the safety of its pilots, a US official said.
The UAE government daily Al-Ittihad said Friday that Abu Dhabi was concerned over the coalition’s failure to arm Sunni tribes in Iraq, which are helping government forces and other militia to battle IS in the western Anbar province.
“Neither air strikes nor a media war are sufficient to defeat” IS, the paper said.
On Thursday, the US military said it was deploying search and rescue planes to northern Iraq in a move designed to shorten the response time needed to reach pilots who end up in IS-held territory.
IS has seized swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq and last year declared a “caliphate” in areas under its control, imposing its brutal interpretation of Islam and committing widespread atrocities.
Jihadists have flocked to Syria since anti-government protests broke out in 2011 and escalated into a multi-sided civil war in which more than 200,000 people have died.
At least 82 people, including 18 children, have been killed since Thursday by regime bombardment on a rebel-held area near Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.