Jordan says pilot murder 'turning point' in ISIS fight

Jordanian protesters hold up pictures of Jordan's King Abdullah and executed Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, as they chant slogans during a march after Friday prayers in downtown Amman on Feb 6, 2015. The burning alive of a Jordanian pilot b
Jordanian protesters hold up pictures of Jordan's King Abdullah and executed Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, as they chant slogans during a march after Friday prayers in downtown Amman on Feb 6, 2015. The burning alive of a Jordanian pilot by the Islamic State group is a "turning point" in the kingdom's fight against the extremists, a minister said in remarks published on Saturday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

AMMAN (AFP) - The burning alive of a Jordanian pilot by the Islamic State group is a "turning point" in the kingdom's fight against the extremists, a minister said in remarks published Saturday.

Air strikes carried out so far by Jordan's air force were "the beginning of an ongoing process to eliminate" ISIS, Interior Minister Hussein Majali said, quoted by government newspaper Al-Rai.

Amman said its warplanes launched dozens of strikes on Thursday against the Sunni Muslim extremist group after threatening a harsh response to the murder of pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh.

ISIS said the strikes near its self-proclaimed capital of Raqa killed US aid worker Kayla Jean Mueller, who was kidnapped in August 2013, but the United States said there was no proof to support the claim.

Majali said the Jordanian air strikes that destroyed the "terrorist" group's facilities, arms depots and training centres on Thursday were the start of a campaign to "wipe them out completely".

"The state of Jordan is entitled to retaliate against this terrorist organisation, and we will pursue it wherever it is," he told Al-Rai.

"History shows that Jordan never forgets to avenge (such attacks), no matter how long it takes... we have the resources to deal with this.

"The day of the hero, martyr pilot's assassination is a turning point in Jordan's history in order to face this horrific crime that was committed by the cowardly terrorist organisation," said the minister.

Jordan is part of the US-led coalition battling ISIS, which has seized swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq and imposed an extreme interpretation of Islam on the areas under its control.

It said it had expanded its air strikes to Iraq, after the jihadist group released a video online this week showing its militants burning alive Kasaesbeh, who was captured when his F-16 fighter jet went down during a mission over Syria.