Last updated: 24 September, 2014

Dutch F-16s to join anti-IS strikes in Iraq, says deputy PM

Six Dutch F-16 fighter bombers are to join the US-led air campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq, Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher announced on Wednesday.

“The Netherlands will make six F-16s available for the first phase of the campaign, for one year,” Asscher told reporters after an emergency cabinet meeting in The Hague.

The jets will “most likely” fly from bases in Jordan and could be operational within a week, Dutch Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said.

An advance Dutch military team was to depart for the region on Thursday, she added.

Apart from the F-16s, the Netherlands will also deploy 250 military personnel and 130 trainers for the Iraqi military.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said last week there were legal obstacles to the Netherlands launching air strikes on Islamists in Iraq’s neighbour Syria without a UN mandate.

“There is currently no international agreement for a military deployment to Syria,” Asscher said on Wednesday.

“In Iraq’s case there is a clear request. A request by Iraq’s legitimate government gives us a sufficient mandate to deploy the Dutch military” there, he said.

Iraq has welcomed the US-led attacks on jihadist groups including the Islamic State group.

The threat posed by Islamic State prompted the United States to launch air strikes in Iraq last month and on Tuesday the operation was expanded to IS and other groups in Syria.

Earlier on Wednesday, US President Barack Obama spoke at the UN Security Council in New York, where he urged the world to unite to defeat the jihadist “network of death” in Iraq and Syria.

Rutte was to address the Security Council later on Wednesday.

France sent Rafale fighters into action in Iraq last week, but France and Britain have said they will not join the US-led operation in Syria.

British media said that parliament could be recalled as early as Friday to decide whether to join the US-led air campaign in Iraq.

The Dutch were not part of an anti-IS coalition gathered by Obama at a NATO summit in Britain earlier this month.

The Netherlands said in August it was sending 1,000 flak jackets and helmets to Iraqi Kurds fighting IS on the ground.