AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan has deployed “thousands” of troops at its border with Iraq as it ramps up a campaign against ISIS militants who set a pilot ablaze, two Jordanian government officials told NBC News on Tuesday.
The troops were sent to prevent the infiltration of ISIS fighters into Jordan and as a show of force, according to the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Jordan’s King Abdullah last week threatened to make ISIS pay for the death of Lt. Muath al-Kasasbeh after video of the military pilot’s murder emerged. He vowed to wage a “harsh” war against ISIS ”because this terrorist organization is not only fighting us, but also fighting Islam and its pure values.”
Abdullah also pledged to hit ISIS militants “hard in the very center of their strongholds.”
While there are pockets of ISIS support across the Iraqi border, Jordan’s deployment appeared to be “an intensification of ongoing efforts to secure the border to stop movement of men and weapons” and not the precursor to an incursion, according to Matthew Henman, an analyst at Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre in London. “It underlines a robust response on the part of government and the king in response to the killing of Muath al-Kasasbeh,” he added.
The kingdom has unleashed up to 20 missions per day by Jordanian jets targeting the militant group’s positions in Syria.
“We are determined to wipe them [ISIS] from the face of the Earth,” Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Jobour told NBC News on Sunday, citing the need for “revenge” after al-Kasabeh’s killing.
Jordan is part of a U.S.-led military alliance that has been bombing ISIS targets in Syria for nearly five months. The Sunni militants have taken over large parts of Iraq and Syria since last summer.