Thousands marched in Jordan’s capital today demanding retribution for the burning alive of a fighter pilot by the Islamic State group, as Amman intensified its fight against the jihadists.
Jordan said dozens of its jet fighters struck IS yesterday, and had widened their campaign from Syria to include targets in neighbouring Iraq.
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.”
Earlier this week, IS released a video of the gruesome killing of airman Maaz al-Kassasbeh, whose death has sparked grief and deep anger in Jordan.
In Amman crowds of people waved Jordanian flags and pictures of Kassasbeh.
“We are all Maaz… We are all Jordan,” they chanted, some holding placards aloft that read: “Yes to punishment. Yes to the eradication of terrorism.”
Holding a portrait of the pilot with the words “Maaz the martyr of righteousness”, Jordan’s Queen Rania joined the marchers after weekly prayers at the Al-Husseini mosque.
Demonstrator Yussef al-Soud told AFP: “We are here to express our anger. We are all soldiers… ready to avenge the pilot.”
The queen, who did not address the rally, 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 going to go after them and we will eradicate them… We are at the forefront. This is our fight,” he told CNN.
Jordan has conducted regular air raids against IS across the border in Syria as part of a US-led campaign against the Sunni extremist group.
Asked by Fox News in a separate interview if Jordan was now also targeting IS in Iraq, he replied: “That’s right. Today, more Syria than Iraq. It is an ongoing effort.”
He added: “They are in Iraq and they are in Syria and therefore you have to target them wherever they are.”
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.
King Abdullah II and Queen Rania yesterday visited Kassasbeh’s family, which has urged the government to “destroy” the jihadists, to pay their condolences.