Jordan pounds IS as Iraqi ground offensive looms

Update: February, 09/2015 - 11:05

AMMAN — Jordan announced it has carried out dozens of air strikes on the Islamic State group, as a top US envoy said Iraqi troops would begin a major ground offensive against the jihadists in the weeks ahead.

Jordanian air force chief Major General Mansour al-Jobour said on Sunday the kingdom had launched 56 air raids since Thursday as part of an international assault against IS that Washington says is beginning to bite.

Jordan has vowed an "earth-shattering" response after the Sunni extremists captured one of its air force pilots, Maaz al-Kassasbeh, burned him alive and released a gruesome video of the execution.

"On the first day of the campaign to avenge our airman Maaz al-Kassasbeh, 19 targets were destroyed, including training camps and equipment," Jobour said.

John Allen, the US co-ordinator for the anti-IS coalition of Western and Arab countries, said Sunday that Iraqi troops would begin a major ground offensive against the jihadists "in the weeks ahead". "When the Iraqi forces begin the ground campaign to take back Iraq, the coalition will provide major firepower associated with that," he told Jordan's official Petra news agency, stressing that the Iraqis would lead the offensive.

IS have seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, ruling the territory with a brutal form of Islam.

IS barracks hit

Jordan has vowed to crush the group after they released a highly choreographed video showing the murder of its pilot, who was captured in December when his F-16 warplane went down in Syria.

The air force chief said air strikes since last Thursday had destroyed dozens of targets, including barracks, training camps, ammunition and fuel depots, and residential centres.

"So far, the campaign has destroyed 20 per cent of the fighting capabilities of Daesh," Jobour said, using another name for IS.

Jobour said more than 7,000 IS militants had been killed since Jordan began participating in coalition air strikes.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said the aerial campaign, launched in September, was beginning to win back territory and deprive the jihadists of key funds.

There have been 2,000 air strikes on IS since the coalition's formation in August, Kerry told a security conference in the German city of Munich. — AFP