DUBAI (Reuters) - United Arab Emirates F-16 jets based in Jordan attacked Islamic State targets on Tuesday and returned safely, UAE state news agency WAM said.
The UAE had suspended participation in coalition air strikes against IS for several weeks over pilot safety concerns, after a Jordanian pilot was captured by the group in Syria. He was later executed.
Tuesday’s flights were the first publicly announced attacks since the UAE said on Sunday it would resume operations, using planes based in Jordan. Both Jordan and the United States praised the UAE’s decision to return to the campaign.
Since November, the U.S. has led a group of countries — conservative Arab monarchies Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan and the UAE — in an air war on IS, which controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria.
By the end of last year, Arab states appeared increasingly absent from the war as easy targets thinned and the U.S. carried out the lion’s share of strikes, according to military data provided to Reuters.
But a public backlash in Arab countries followed IS’s release of a grisly video showing Muath al-Kasaesbeh, the captured Jordanian airman, caged and burnt alive by the militants, and leaders’ enthusiasm for the war has been renewed.
Reporting by Noah Browning; Editing by Larry King