Jordanian F-16s launched 20 airstrikes on Islamic State targets in 2015 following King Abdullah II’s declaration to wage a “harsh” war against militants from the group, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or ISIS, after the brutal execution of captured Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbe.
Abdullah participating in a military special operations training exercises as Jump-Master.
King Abdullah II, a former commander of Jordan’s special forces, pledged to hit the militants “hard in the very center of their strongholds,” AP reports.
The Jordanian government has denied the king’s physical involvement in any aerial attacks.
Dubbed the “warrior king,” Jordan’s 53-year-old leader has clocked in 35 years of military service.
According to the king‘s bio, he enrolled in the UK’s Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in 1980 and went on to become an elite Cobra attack helicopter pilot.
In November 1993, then-Prince Abdullah became commander of Jordan’s special forces.
Three years later he turned Jordan’s small special forces unit into today’s elite Special Operations Command (SOCOM), arguably the best operatives in the Middle East.
Frequently training alongside US special forces, Jordan’s units are approximately 14,000 strong and may further contribute to the fight against ISIS beyond Jordan’s airstrikes.
As the head of a constitutional monarchy, the career soldier holds substantial power.
Members of Congress have asked for an increase in military assistance to the kingdom, AP reports. The US is providing Jordan with $1 billion annually in military assistance.
The fight against ISIS lost a crucial partner, the United Arab Emirates, in December after the Jordanian pilot was captured, The New York Times reported.
The UAE demands that the Pentagon improve its search-and-rescue efforts in northern Iraq before it rejoins the coalition, The Times said, quoting unidentified US officials.
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