Amman, Asharq Al-Awsat—All military and security options remain on the table in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Jordanian Information Minister Mohammad Al-Momani told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Momani’s comments come after Jordan stepped up the number of airstrikes its forces are carrying out against ISIS following news of the brutal execution of pilot Muadh Al-Kasasbeh. Jordan’s King Abdullah II pledged a “harsh” retaliation against the terrorist group, with the Jordanian air force hitting ISIS targets for the third day running on Saturday.
Jordan first joined the US-led military coalition against ISIS in September.
“Sorties of air force fighters today bombed ISIS bases,” state television reported in a news bulletin on Saturday, but gave no further details. On Thursday, the first day of the bombing campaign, Jordanian airstrikes reportedly killed at least 55 ISIS militants.
The information minister said that Amman is not considering halting its military response following reports that a US hostage held by ISIS was killed in the latest air strikes carried out by the Kingdom.
“We will continue to intensify our military efforts through increased sorties to hit the terrorist ISIS until they pay the price for their heinous actions,” he said in reference to the killing of Kasasbeh, who was burned to death in a cage.
Momani’s message was reiterated by Jordanian Interior Minister Hussein Al-Majali who pledged that Jordan would track down the militants responsible for Kasasbeh’s death “wherever they are.”
In comments to Jordan’s Al-Rai newspaper, he said Amman’s military response is just “the beginning of an ongoing operation to eliminate ISIS and completely wipe them out.”
The US has backed Amman’s strong response to Kasasbeh’s death, with reports that Washington plans to significantly increase military and other assistance to Jordan.
The Obama administration’s proposed foreign aid budget for 2015 would grant Jordan 1 billion US dollars in aid. US aid to Jordan currently stands at 660 million dollars.
“The United States recognizes Jordan’s increased immediate needs resulting from regional unrest, the efforts Jordan is undertaking at the forefront of the fight against ISIS and other extremist ideology and terrorism, the influx of refugees from Syria and Iraq, the disruption of foreign energy supplies, and other unprecedented strains,” the US State Department said in a statement earlier this week.
“Discussions with our friends and allies is ongoing regarding the continued exchange of military equipment and expertise to sustain Jordan’s security and military capabilities,” Momani told Asharq Al-Awsat.