TEL AVIV – Jordanian authorities are looking into an alleged plan by Islamic State militants to conquer the Jordanian town of Irbid near the Syrian border, an Arab intelligence source told Breitbart Jerusalem.
Four jihadi militants and a Jordanian security officer were killed early on Wednesday when troops clashed with gunmen in the kingdom’s second-largest city.
The troops were working from intelligence pointing to an IS cell in the city, strategically located near the Syrian and Israeli borders.
Jordanian officials told the news media that the terrorists were part of a series of sleeper cells who planned to detonate explosives at civilian and military targets inside Jordan.
The source, who has access to details of the Jordanian operation, said that the full picture is not yet clear and authorities are trying to establish whether there was an attempted coup.
The militants were allegedly inspired by IS’s conquests of the cities Reqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.
“Yesterday’s events proved that IS still has significant bastions in Jordan enjoying popular support, despite the blow the organization received in public opinion after the cruel execution of Moaz al-Qasasbeh, the Jordanian pilot who was burned alive,” the source said.
Jordan refused to disclose any data about the identities of the alleged IS members, seven of whom were killed. Jordanian security forces reportedly seized automatic weapons, munitions, and suicide bomb belts from the IS cells.
An official statement said, “A vicious terrorist scheme, which sought to destabilize the country and undermine our national security, was foiled.”
“After diligent and detailed intelligence gathering the intelligence department was soon able to thwart a criminal and destructive plot linked to the terrorist Daesh group aimed at destabilizing national security,” the statement added, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
The source, meanwhile, added that IS’s deteriorating condition in Syria and Iraq has prompted the group to search for alternative territories.
“They focus on Libya and North Africa,” he said. “Their attempt to take over the Tunisia-Libya border area failed, and now they signal to Jordan that they’re next.”
“Jordan is likely to reconsider its stance on Syria, which opposes President Assad,” he concluded.
In the wake of Jordan’s fire clashes with IS, the U.S. on Thursday delivered eight Black Hawk helicopters to Jordan with the goal of aiding the Kingdom in its fight against the global terrorist group, according to Jordanian and U.S. officials.
“The United States is committed to standing with Jordan to face the threat posed by Daesh,” U.S. ambassador to Jordan Alice G. Wells stated at a handover ceremony with the Jordanian military.
“As you employ these aircraft in the fight against Daesh, know that we will be standing right there next to you.”