Jordan Is Planning to "Wipe [the Islamic State Group] From the Face of the Earth"
The news: In a clear and direct escalation of military activity against the Islamic State group, Jordan has reportedly launched 56 airstrikes against the terrorist group in the last three days.
The country's air force chief Gen. Mansour al-Jabour said Sunday that the nearly five dozen strikes hit "logistics centers, arms depots and targeted hideouts of their fighters," reports Al-Jazeera. The attacks were targeting the Syrian city of Raqqa, an Islamic State group stronghold.
According to al-Jabour, the attacks were a retaliation after the Islamic State group released a video Thursday showing the execution of captured Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh. Al-Kaseasbeh was burned alive while trapped in a cage.
"We achieved what we were looking for: Revenge for Muath," al-Jabour said, according to the Associated Press. "And this is not the end. This is the beginning."
The background: Several Arab countries, including Jordan, have been allied with the United States in an air campaign against the Islamic State group since Sept. 23, 2014, a few months after the group declared a itself a caliphate in late June.
However, after the Islamic State group released the video of al-Kaseasbeh's execution, Jordan has dramatically increased its military efforts. According to Al Jazeera, about 20% of the sorties made by the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group came from Jordan and those sorties are responsible for "degrading" roughly 20% of the groups capabilities.
"We are determined to wipe them from the face of the Earth," al-Jabour added.
He added that about 7,000 IS fighters have been killed since the beginning of the coalition's airstrikes. After the Islamic State group captured Jordan's pilot, the United Arab Emirates halted airstrikes, but the Associated Press reports that the UAE announced Saturday its plans to send a fleet of F-16 fighter jets to Jordan to participate in airstrikes, according to a Jordanian official.
The takeaway: Since rising to international prominence in June 2014, the Islamic State group has been growing at a disconcerting pace, in terms of membership, bankroll and violence. The group was pulling in as much as $2 million a day by some estimates and was believed to have as many as 100,000 members at the end of last summer. After releasing a string of execution videos, the Islamic State group gained more attention from the press and general population, leading to an expanded military campaign against the group.
Despite reports that many in the area, and even Jordan itself, support IS, if the recent Jordanian airstrikes are any indication, the tide may be turning and the terrorist group might be counting down its final days.