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Jordanian intervention in the Syrian Civil War

Jordanian intervention in the Syrian Civil War
Part of the Military intervention against ISIL (Foreign involvement in the Syrian Civil War)

Current military situation, as of 23 October 2015:
(For a clickable version of the map without shaded areas, see here for Syria and and )
Date 22 September 2014 – present
(1 year, 9 months and 1 day)
Location Iraq, Syria


United Arab Emirates
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Commanders and leaders
Abdullah II
Abdullah Ensour
Mashal Al-Zaben
Khalifa Al Nahyan
Mohammed Al Maktoum
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Abu Alaa Afri[1]

Jordanian Forces:

Emirati Forces:

Up to 200,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria
Casualties and losses
  • 1 serviceman executed[2]
  • 1 F-16 fighter plane crashed[3]

The Jordanian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War began on 22 September 2014, with air strikes on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets, and escalated after the murder on Muath al-Kasasbeh, a captured Jordanian pilot, by ISIL, in early 2015.


  • Background 1
  • Jordanian motivation for attacking ISIL 2
  • First Jordanian airstrikes 3
  • Escalation 4
    • Capture and murder of Lieutenant Al-Kasasbeh 4.1
    • Fake negotiations 4.2
    • Release of murder video 4.3
  • Reaction to murder of Jordanian POW 5
    • Executions 5.1
    • Airstrikes 5.2
    • The UAE joins in 5.3
  • Preparations for possible invasion 6
    • Mobilization 6.1
    • Negotiations with Iraq 6.2
    • June/July 2015 6.3
  • Domestic criticism 7
  • International reaction 8
  • References 9


ISIL sees Jordan's King Abdullah as an enemy of Islam and an infidel, and early June 2014 posted a video on Internet threatening to "slaughter" Abdullah whom they denounced as a "tyrant". Jordanian ISIL members in the video vowed to launch suicide attacks inside Jordan.[4]

A report from the Gatestone Institute, also early June 2014, said that ISIL was planning to take their jihad to Jordan, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula.[4]

Jordanian security sources early June 2014 said to, that Islamist movements already have a significant presence in Jordan.[4]

In reaction to such developments, according to security sources in Amman, King Abdullah has, in June 2014 or earlier, requested urgent military aid from the U.S. and others so he could foil ISIL plans.[4]

Threats by ISIS to invade have been made repeatedly,[5] causing the Hashimite Kingdom to consider taking matters into its own hands.

Jordanian motivation for attacking ISIL

23 September 2014, Jordan's Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications, Mohammad Momani, declared: "We took part in the strikes which are part of our efforts to defeat terrorism in its strongholds."

Together with a statement, that same day, of the Jordan Armed Forces, saying their Air Force had at dawn launched strikes against "terrorist groups", and with U.S. announcements that they had begun strikes inside Syria together with partner nations, this brought The Jordan Times to conclude that, apparently, Jordan had joined the US-led strikes against ISIL in Syria.[6]

First Jordanian airstrikes

The Jordanian Air Force joined in the US-led bombing of ISIL in Syria, as of 22 September 2014. Jihadist troops have retaliated by firing into Jordan and there has been increased sniping at the border.[7]


Capture and murder of Lieutenant Al-Kasasbeh

On 24 December 2014, a Jordanian fighter jet was shot down over Syria and the pilot, Jordanian air force Lieutenant Muath Al-Kasasbeh, captured. The pilot was later murdered at some point.

Fake negotiations

The murder was initially kept secret. ISIL, instead, tried to persuade Jordan into an "exchange" of prisoners, to recover jailed terrorists. Jordan offered to make the exchange, but demanded "proof of life" first, which was not given.

Release of murder video

Instead, the video of the pilot's burning to death was released, late Tuesday 3 February 2015.[8]

Realising that the murder had happened well before the negotiations had begun, King Abdullah II and much of the rest of the nation, were outraged and vowed revenge.

Reaction to murder of Jordanian POW


The terrorists whose release was demanded, Sajida al-Rishawi and Ziad al-Karbouli, were executed, at dawn of Wednesday 4 February.[9]


That same 4 February, Jordanian airstrikes on ISIL positions in Iraq started. The next day, the first of a series of airstrikes on ISIL positions in Syria commenced. King Abdullah paid a condolence call to the pilot's family as the first bombing run in Syria hit its targets. The lower house of Parliament voted to support the war effort.[10]

The rolling air strike campaign, dubbed "Operation Martyr Muath", between 5 and 7 February hit over 56 targets, in and around the Syrian city and ISIL stronghold Raqqa, and it was claimed that 20% of ISIL's "military capabilities" had been destroyed.[11] The number of ISIL casualties was estimated at 7 thousand, although this may have been for the entire coalition since the bombing campaign began the previous summer.[12]

The UAE joins in

The air force of the United Arab Emirates, which had left the coalition when the Lieutenant's jet went down, rejoined the coalition under Jordanian command; they were to be based near Amman.[13] Soon they had joined in for a few bombing runs.

Preparations for possible invasion


It was announced in the media that "thousands of troops" had been sent to the eastern border with Iraq,[14] which, from time to time, (see map on upper right hand corner) has been occupied by ISIL fighters. This led to speculation that Jordan was preparing an armed invasion of ISIL occupied territory. However, this was later denied by some in the military.[15]

Negotiations with Iraq

On February 12, Khaled al-Obaidi, the Iraqi Defense Minister, announced that "The king of Jordan has requested that all means of the Jordanian armed forces be made available to the Iraqi army," which means that Jordanian ground forces have asked permission to cross into Iraqi territory,[16] in order to assist in a previously announced major offensive.[17] The offer of troops was made again in April.[18]

June/July 2015

On June 28, 2015, rumors began circulating through the press that there was going to be a coordinated attack on Syria by Turkey and Jordan.[19][20] Reports in major newspapers said that the Turkish and Jordanian militaries would invade from their respective sides of the border and create buffer zones well within Syria.[21][22]

Domestic criticism

Weekly newspaper Die Zeit, on reportage in Jordan shortly after 4 February, said the war against ISIL is extremely unpopular in Jordan because it is being led by the U.S.[23]

The mayor of Ma'an, a southern Jordanian city known for its often critical stance toward Jordan's national policies, interviewed by Die Zeit, said: "with all due respect for His Majesty (King Abdullah II), but we are never asked anything when such wars are under consideration."[24]

International reaction

While the Assad regime indicated that it was okay for Jordan to bomb ISIL, it warned that ground troops were out of the question. "We will not allow anyone to violate our national sovereignty and we do not need any ground troops to fight Daesh," Syrian foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said.[25]

The NGOs Human Rights Watch[26] and Amnesty International [27] denounced the executions of the terrorists, and demanded an end to hostilities.


  1. ^ Engel, Pamela (23 April 2015). "Report: A former physics teacher favored by Osama bin Laden is now leading ISIS". Business Insider. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Adams, Paul (February 3, 2015). "'"Jordan pilot hostage Moaz al-Kasasbeh 'burned alive.  
  3. ^ "'"Jordan pilot ejected over Syria after 'technical failure.  
  4. ^ a b c d "ISIS Threatens to Invade Jordan, 'Slaughter' King Abdullah"., 13 June 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Jordan confirms its planes joined strikes on IS in Syria". Jordan Times. 23 September 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  7. ^ "Jordan troops clash with militants on Syria border". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  8. ^ Shiv Malik (4 February 2015). "Isis video shows Jordanian hostage being burned to death". The Guardian. United Kingdom. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  9. ^ (USA Today)
  10. ^ "Lower House fully supports anti-terror fight — speaker". Jordan Times. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  11. ^ "Jordan says it has bombed ISIL 56 times in three days". Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  12. ^ "Jordanian air force destroyed ‘20% of Daesh capabilities’ - commander". Jordan Times. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  13. ^ "US welcomes UAE decision to base fighter jets in Jordan". The Jerusalem Post - Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  14. ^ "Jordan Moves 'Thousands' of Troops to Iraq Border: Jordanian Sources". NBC News. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  15. ^ "Jordan can respond to any threat in less than one hour — army chief". Jordan Times. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Iraq To Launch Ground Offensive Against ISIS As Jordan Pounds Group's Strongholds In Syria". International Business Times. 9 February 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ Die Zeit, 12 February 2015.
  24. ^ Die Zeit, 12 February 2015. In German: "Bei allem Respekt für Seine Majestät, aber wir werden bei solchen Kriegen nie gefragt".
  25. ^ "Syria says it doesn't need Jordan in Islamic State fight". Yahoo News. 9 February 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  26. ^ "Dispatches: Jordan's Executions Are Not the Answer to ISIS Brutality - Human Rights Watch". Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  27. ^ "Killing of Jordanian pilot 'abhorrent' but 'revenge executions' not the answer - Amnesty International". 4 February 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
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