Saturday 20 January 2018

Saudi prince and first woman pilot join in blitz

Mariam Al Mansouri, the first Emirati female fighter jet pilot gives the thumbs up as she sits in the cockpit of an aircraft, in United Arab Emirates. AP Photo
Mariam Al Mansouri, the first Emirati female fighter jet pilot gives the thumbs up as she sits in the cockpit of an aircraft, in United Arab Emirates. AP Photo
British Prime Minister David Cameron announces that the UK will join the air campaign against ISIL as he addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York. Reuters
Residents inspect a damaged site after what activists say were four air strikes by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Douma, eastern al-Ghouta, near Damascus. Reuters
An injured man gestures amid rubble after what activists say were four air strikes by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Douma, eastern al-Ghouta, near Damascus. Reuters
Kurdish Syrian refugees carry their belongings after crossing the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province. Reuters
Kurdish Syrian refugees stand in a truck at the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province. Reuters
A member of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent carries a Kurdish Syrian refugee girl to the first aid tent after crossing the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province. Reuters
A Syrian soldier stands on a damaged tank after government forces recaptured the Damascus suburb of Adra, Syria. AP Photo
Shi'ite fighters, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against militants of the Islamic State, take part in field training in the desert region between Kerbala and Najaf, south of Baghdad. Reuters

Louise Loveluck

Saudi Arabia has offered a royal seal of approval to the US-led fight against the Islamic State group, sending its top pilot prince on bombing runs over Syria.

Earlier this week, the Saudi government released photos of Prince Khaled bin Salman smiling shyly from the cockpit of his F15 fighter jet.

The prince was said to have piloted one of four planes as jets from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) joined American aircraft on bombing runs over Syria.

Saudi Arabia's decision to publicise Prince Khaled's role is likely two-fold, reassuring the west of the Kingdom's firm stance against extremist groups and warning Saudi citizens that the Islamic State (Isil) is an enemy of the Crown.

Prince Khaled is the son of prime minister, defence minister and heir to the Saudi throne Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Meanwhile, Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE's ambassador to the United States, confirmed yesterday that the country's first female fighter pilot, Major Mariam Al Mansouri (35) took part in her own kingdom's military action. Ms Mansouri is a veteran F-16 pilot.

Irish Independent

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