UAE warplanes back in action

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UAE: The United Arab Emrites on February 11 launched air strikes from Jordan against the Islamic state group as an important Arab ally in the US-led anti-IS coalition returned to combat operations. The raids came after President Bashar al-Assad said Damascus was being informed about air strikes against jihadists in Syria and that they could help his government if they were “more serious”.

Emirati F-16s that flew in to Jordan carried out raids against IS, “hitting their targets and returning safely to base”, the UAE armed forces command said. It did not specify how many aircraft were in action, or where or what their targets were. Following the December crash and capture of Jordanian F-16 pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, the UAE withdrew from the coalition’s strike missions over fears for the safety of its pilots.

The jihadists later killed the airman by burning him alive, releasing gruesome video footage of his “execution”. Abu Dhabi wanted more done in terms of search and rescue for downed pilots in the conflict zones, the New York Times reported, and the US military later deployed aircraft and troops to northern Iraq to boost its SAR capabilities.