Dutch MPs have given broad support to the government’s decision to send six F-16 fighter jets to take part in anti-Islamic State bombing in Iraq, describing the Netherlands’ contribution as ‘substantial’.
In Syria, the Netherlands will confine its role to providing diplomatic help and humanitarian aid because there is no clear international mandate for military intervention and it has not been requested by the government.
On Wednesday, ministers agreed at a specially-convened cabinet meeting to take part in the military mission in Iraq, which comes at the request of the Baghdad authorities. The mission will last six to 12 months and the first members of the team will leave possibly as early as Thursday.
‘It was a very difficult decision,’ deputy prime minister Lodewijk Asscher said. ‘There are risks with the Dutch involvement in military intervention, both to people on the ground and here at home. We are aware of this and our security services are ready.’
The fighter jets will require a support team of 250 people and an additional 130 soldiers and support staff will be sent to Iraq to train the Iraqi and Kurdish military. The cost of the Dutch contribution to the international effort is put at €150m.
A large majority of MPs support the cabinet’s position, although PVV leader Geert Wilders called for greater attention for the domestic terrorist risk. The Socialists oppose the mission, arguing that military intervention will impede efforts to find a political solution and may boost support for the IS.
The mission does not require parliamentary approval.
US and Arab jets bombed Islamic State targets in Syria for a second day on Wednesday, including oil facilities. US president Barak Obama told the United Nations general assembly on Wednesday some 40 countries have now agreed to join the anti-IS coalition.
In a short speech to the assembly, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said the situation in Iraq and Syria is a ‘serious threat which demands a serious response’.
The UN assembly agreement is for sanctions against terrorist organisations to cut off funding streams and to prevent extremists travelling to conflict zones. If necessary, these provisions should be expanded, Rutte is quoted as saying by broadcaster Nos.
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