CRACK British paratroopers have jumped into Jordan to send a message to Iran and Russia that we can land in their backyards.
Almost 200 paras from the UK’s rapid reaction force swooped into a desert dropzone just 20 miles from the Syrian border, where Russia and Iran have forces.
They were led by 40 elite Pathfinders who jumped from 12,000 feet using a high-altitude low-opening chutes known as Halo.
The Sun joined the rest of men as they leapt from a pair of RAF Hercules, cruising at 800 ft over the sun scorched planes of Qasr al Hallabat with Jordian Special Forces.
It was the biggest British jump in the volatile region since the 1956 Suez Crisis.
And it came hours before a Russian warship opened fire in the Black Sea, in a fraught naval showdown with HMS Defender, a Royal Navy destroyer.
The Russian ministry of defence had accused HMS Defender of entering its territorial waters to which it opened fire from the coastguard ship before dropping four bombs from aircraft above.
In the process, the ship was buzzed by 20 Russian jets and chased by two armed coastguard vessels whose crews barked “change your course or I’ll fire.”
Undeterred, Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, told The Times that "the Royal Navy will always uphold the international law of the sea and will not be impeded on innocent passage."
Meannwhile, with the events of the Black Sea fresh in the memory, Brigadier James Martin, the commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, said his men were sending a message to Russia.
He said: “It shows that we have an expeditionary force that we are ready, willing and able to use.”
Moments before he jumped with his men, he said: "We are talking to any potential adversary that would seek to destabilise the region for their own gains.
"That includes those that sit north of the border of Jordan and you know there are multiple interests. There are overlapping of Russian interests, we've got Iranian interests."
Relations between Nato and Russia have hit historic lows, with Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, threating today to bomb a Navy warship.
He said: “We can appeal to common sense, demand respect for international law.
“If this does not help, we can bomb not only in the direction but also on target, if our colleagues do not understand.
“I warn everyone violating the state borders of the Russian Federation under the slogan of free navigation, from such provocative steps, because the security of our country comes first.”
The Paras op was timed to coincide with the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, which had spooked Russian forces in the eastern Mediterranean.
Russian MiG and Sukhoi jets have been buzzing Navy and RAF F-35B Lightning’s in a high stakes game of "cat and mouse".
Commodore Steve Moorhouse, commander of the carrier strike group, said Russia’s new footprint in Syria – which includes a nuclear submarines and an airbase had made the region “more contested and congested”.
Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said the paras’ global response force “are the solders of the future”.
And he said the exercise was proof that ‘the UK Armed Forces stand with Jordan against shared threats in the region.”
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