King Abdullah II of Jordan has claimed that Jordanian jets helped Israeli warplanes confront Russian aircraft on the southern Syrian border at an unspecified time.
The Middle East Eye (MEE) news portal and Haaretz published the claim by Abdullah on Friday, saying the monarch had made the remarks to US Congressmen on January 11 without disclosing the date of the purported confrontation.
“We saw the Russians fly down, but they were met with Israeli and Jordanian F-16s,” Abdullah (seen below) was cited as saying. “The Russians were shocked and understood they could not mess with us.”
The source also quoted the king as saying that the reported development had been followed by diplomatic efforts aimed at de-escalation, during which Jordan would often speak “on behalf of Israel.”
“We discussed an idea on how to keep the Russians in their place,” he allegedly told the lawmakers of the meetings that ensued, adding that Amman and Moscow agreed during the sessions on the exact sphere of their military activities.
Moscow is yet to produce an official reaction to the report.
Upon a request from Damascus, Russia started combat sorties against terrorist positions in Syria on September 30, 2015.
On March 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that “the main part” of the Russian forces would start to withdraw from Syria, and that diplomats had been called upon to increase their efforts for a peaceful solution to the 2011-present crisis in the Arab country.
Jordan views Israel as a vital regional ally. Amman and Tel Aviv are widely reported to have been providing support for the militants who have been fighting the Syrian government over the last five years.
Covert operations in Syria
The Jordanian monarch was also quoted as telling US Congress members about how Jordanian special forces had joined what he called an operation by US-backed militants to retake al-Waleed, a crossing on Syria’s eastern border with Iraq, in early March.
The king revealed the preparation of two special forces battalions for the covert action during a briefing in January to top-level US congressional members, including John McCain and Paul Ryan.
MEE quoted a source in contact with militants in Syria as saying that Jordanian forces helped the groups retake the crossing.
Jordan’s king reportedly said he had built a strong relationship with Britain and was working together with their special forces.