Middle East

Islamic State crisis: UAE female pilot in air strikes

Major Mariam al-Mansouri in her F-16 jet, in an image from 13 June Image copyright AFP
Image caption Major Mansouri in her F-16 jet, in an image from 13 June

The United Arab Emirates' first female air force pilot has taken part in air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria, UAE officials have confirmed.

Recent photos of Major Mariam al-Mansouri in her F-16 jet were released as a report circulated that she had led her squadron in Tuesday's raids.

While the UAE is a largely conservative state, it has seen pioneering efforts to allow women to occupy top jobs.

A son of Saudi Crown Prince Salman, Khaled, also joined the air strikes.

Commenting on the involvement of Major Mansouri, a UAE source told AFP news agency that a "coalition Western officer was surprised when she called in to refuel from [an] aerial tanker".

News of her mission electrified sections of social media, with tweeters hailing her as "the woman of the day" and using the hash tag "ladyliberty" to praise her. Angry Islamist sympathisers denounced her "criminal" act.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Major Mansouri checks her F-16 jet, in an image from 13 June
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Major Mansouri with other pilots, in an image from 18 June
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Saudi Arabian air force pilot Prince Khaled bin Salman in his cockpit at an undisclosed location on Tuesday