- Associated Press - Sunday, April 19, 2015

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) - Jordan on Sunday launched a competition among elite anti-terrorism squads from 18 countries, including fellow members of military coalitions fighting rebels in Yemen and Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria.

The 7th annual Warrior Competition is being held at a time when Jordan is stepping up its military role in the region, as part of a U.S.-led campaign against Islamic State and a Saudi-led battle against Shiite rebels in Yemen.

The five-day competition offers a chance for team leaders to “meet and to know each other, as the terrorists have become international,” said Col. Khaled Abu Hamad, a spokesman for the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center on the outskirts of Amman, where the event is being held.

The competition opened with a drill by Jordanian special forces who rescued mock-hostages from a passenger plane and rappelled from a helicopter into a five-story building to chase militants. The opening ceremony also included skydivers and snipers.

Teams compete in 10 events, including shooting. Among those participating are the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Bahrain and China - which won the counter-terrorism competition in 2014.

Jordan assumed a more high-profile role in the coalition against the Islamic State group after the militants released a video in February showing a captured Jordanian pilot being immolated while trapped in a cage.

Jordan’s army chief, Brig. Gen. Mashal Zaben, said Sunday that the killing of the pilot “unmasked the ugly faces of those outlaws.”

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