Middle East

Islamic State crisis: Thousands rally in Jordan

Media caption"Tribes from around Jordan are here to express solidarity and support to the armed forces," says the BBC's Issam Ikirmawi in Amman

Thousands have rallied in Jordan's capital, Amman, in support of their government's military response to the killing of a Jordanian fighter pilot by Islamic State (IS) militants.

Among those marching was Jordan's first lady, Queen Rania, who told the BBC the country was "united in our horror".

Jordan says its warplanes carried out dozens of air strikes on IS targets on Thursday in response to the killing.

The country's foreign minister said it was "upping the ante" against IS.

Until now, Arab states have only been involved in a fraction of the US-led air campaign against the militants.

The focus of Jordan's air strikes is reported to be Raqqa, the IS stronghold in Syria.

Local activists and IS sympathisers reported fresh strikes in the city on Friday, but these have not been confirmed by officials.

'This is our war'

On Friday morning, crowds gathered outside the capital's al-Husseini mosque after weekly prayers, waving Jordanian flags and pictures of the murdered pilot, Moaz al-Kasasbeh.

Some held placards that read: "Yes to punishment. Yes to the eradication of terrorism", the AFP news agency reported.

Media captionQueen Rania of Jordan: "We cannot win this war alone, but it is absolutely our war"

Queen Rania said Lt Kasasbeh's killing had made Jordanians "determined to rid the world of this evil".

Some internal critics have criticised Jordanian involvement, but she said: "This is absolutely Jordan's war, it is every Muslim's war... We can't win this war alone but it is absolutely our war."

Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said Thursday's strikes were "the beginning of our retaliation" against IS.

A video of Lt Kasasbeh, 26, being burned alive in a cage was posted online by IS earlier this week.

He was captured by the militants in December after his F-16 fighter jet crashed in Syria. The video is believed to have been filmed on 3 January.

Jordan had previously only bombed IS sites in Syria, but Mr Judeh said it was now also targeting IS in Iraq.

Image caption Queen Rania was among thousands to take to the streets of Amman
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Many of those rallying carried images of the murdered pilot
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Lt Moaz al-Kasasbeh had been held hostage since his plane came down on 24 December

After Thursday's strikes, Jordanian war planes flew over Lt Kasasbeh's home village of Aya, near the city of Karak, south of Amman.

Their flight coincided with a visit to the village by King Abdullah II, who was meeting the pilot's family.

King Abdullah, sitting sombre-faced with Saif al-Kasasbeh, the pilot's father, was said to have gestured to the skies as the warplanes flew overhead.

The army said in a statement that "dozens of jet fighters" had struck IS targets, including training camps and weapons warehouses.

Media captionFootage released by the Jordanian military shows air strikes against IS

State television showed people writing messages on what appeared to be missiles for the air strikes, with one calling IS "the enemies of Islam".

On Friday, jihadi cleric Abu Mohammad al-Maqdisi, whose writings had inspired members of al-Qaeda in Iraq, said the killing of Lt Kasasbeh was "not acceptable in any religion".

Mr Maqdisi, who was unexpectedly released from prison on Thursday, told Jordanian TV station Roya that he had been involved in back-channel talks with IS to secure the release of Lt Kasasbeh.

Jordan had offered to swap Sajida al-Rishawi, a failed female suicide bomber, for the captured pilot but Mr Maqdisi said the militants were never serious about an exchange.

Jordan executed Rishawi and another convicted al-Qaeda operative on Wednesday.

Timeline: Jordanian pilot held hostage

24 December 2014: Jordanian Lt Moaz Youssef al-Kasasbeh captured by IS after his plane crashes

25 December 2014: Pilot's father urges IS to show mercy

20 January 2015: IS threatens to kill two Japanese hostages unless Japan pays $200m ransom within 72 hours

24 January: IS releases video of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto holding a picture apparently showing Haruna Yukawa's decapitated body

24 January: IS calls for release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi militant sentenced to death in Jordan

28 January: Jordan offers to release Rishawi in exchange for Lt Kasasbeh

29 January: Deadline to kill Lt Kasasbeh and Mr Goto expires

31 January: Video released appearing to show Kenji Goto's body

3 February: Video released appearing to show Lt Kasasbeh burnt alive, with Jordanian media suggesting he was killed weeks earlier

Mid-East press calls for Islamic reform

Profile: Lt Moaz al-Kasasbeh

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