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UAE’s female fighter pilot leads airstrikes against ISIL
Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to the United States, confirmed on Thursday that the country’s first female fighter pilot was involved in recent action against ISIL.
He discussed the UAE’s commitment in combating ISIL and fighting extremism on the live-broadcast American television show Morning Joe, a weekday morning talk show on MSNBC.
Mr Al Otaiba also confirmed that Major Mariam Al Mansouri, 35, an F-16 pilot, will lead the air strike missions on ISIL.
“I can officially confirm that the UAE strike mission on Monday night was led by female fighter pilot Mariam Al Mansouri,” he said.
“She is a fully qualified, highly trained, combat-ready pilot and she is on a mission.”
The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain and the United States have allied to launch a series of air strikes against members of ISIL in Syria to combat extremists.
During the show, Mr Al Otaiba said: “We will bring whatever it takes to defeat ISIS [ISIL] and other forms of extremism.”
Mr Al Otaiba said it was important for Arab and Muslim states to stand against ISIL and to see them as the threat they were.
“I think it’s important for us moderate Arabs, moderate Muslims, to step up and say, ‘this is a threat against us’,” he said. “This is more of a threat to us than it is to ISIL. This is a threat to our country, a threat to our way of life.”
Maj Al Mansouri has an undergraduate degree in English literature and is the first woman to join the Khalifa bin Zayed Air College, graduating in 2008.
Her participation in the raid stirred a debate on social media, with supporters posting her picture on Twitter and commending her service.
* with reporting by Agence France-Presse
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