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Jordan Launches New Airstrikes on Islamic State

Jordanian King Abdullah II (C), escorted by Safi al-Kaseasbeh (L), father of slain Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, and the pilot's uncle Fahed al-Kaseasbeh, arrive at a memorial tent at their home village of Ai, Jordan, Feb. 5, 2015.

Jordanian warplanes launched airstrikes against Islamic State targets Thursday, a day after the country's king vowed relentless targeting of the militant group following its gruesome killing of a Jordanian fighter pilot whose plane went down in Syria.

No information was given on the targets of Jordan's military airstrikes, but Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told CNN television that this is just the start of Jordan's retaliation. He said everyone is on the target list, and he called Islamic State "cowards."

The Jordanian government confirmed the airstrikes Thursday as King Abdullah visited the family of slain pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh at their home in southern Jordan.

The king told the family that Jordan will continue the fight to defend their religion, the country and the Jordanian people.

Abdullah told top security and army chiefs on Wednesday that it was crucial to step up pre-emptive strikes against the militant hardline Islamists.

Jordan's military, which is part of the U.S.-led coalition against the group, has vowed to avenge Kaseasbeh's killing.

The Islamic State group had demanded a prisoner exchange, but Jordan refused without proof the pilot was still alive. A video emerged online Tuesday purporting to show the pilot being burned to death while locked inside a cage.

U.S. defense officials said Thursday the Pentagon has moved aircraft and pilots to northern Iraq to better position themselves in search and rescue missions in Iraq and Syria. Some of the assets were moved from Kuwait.

The United Arab Emirates suspended its participation in the U.S.-led airstrikes on Islamic State after the Jordanian pilot was captured. It called on the U.S. to be better prepared to rescue coalition pilots captured by Islamic State.

Also Thursday, a leader of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters told VOA his ground forces are in need of military assistance in their fight against Islamic State

"NATO and the United States should understand that we need political and military assistance. I ask formally that their ground forces participate in the war with us and why should the Kurds do it alone as we fight on behalf of the world,” said commander Wasta Rasul.

Iraq's Peshmerga forces have been reclaiming Iraqi territory from IS militants in recent months.

Meets with slain pilot's family

State television showed a somber king sitting alongside the army chief and senior officials visiting the Kaseasbeh tribal family in Ai, a village near Karak, about 100 kilometers [60 miles] south of the capital, Amman.

The king, wearing a traditional Arab head dress, was met with cheering crowds and cries of “Long Live his Majesty the King, Long Live the King” in traditional Bedouin chanting.

Thousands of Jordanians flocked to pay their respects in a part of the country where influential tribes form an important pillar of the country's Hashemite monarchy and supply the army and security forces with their manpower.

“You are a wise monarch. These criminals violated the rules of war in Islam and they have no humanity. Even humanity disowns them,” Safi al-Kaseasbeh, father of the pilot, told the king.

Hours after the release of the video showing the pilot burning to death, the authorities executed two al-Qaida militants who had been on death row, including a woman suicide bomber whose release had been demanded by the Islamic State group.

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.