Monday 28 September 2020

Dutch won’t send ground troops to new US mission in Syria: minister

Photo: Depositphotos.com

The Netherlands will not provide ground troops for the new US mission in Syria, defence minister Ank Bijleveld told news agency ANP on Friday, following the weekly cabinet meeting.

‘We do not have a UN mandate for this and we will not get one,’ Bijlveld said, adding that the cabinet is looking at other ways of meeting the US request for assistance.

On Thursday, the US ambassador to the Netherlands told the Volkskrant that the US is asking the Netherlands to supply ground military resources.

The Netherlands had been ‘very sharp’ in its criticism of the US decision to leave Syria at the end of last year, Pete Hoekstra said. ‘So we are optimistic that the Dutch… will press on and contribute what they think is needed in Syria.’

The request for ‘military or civilian assistance’ was made at the end of May. Last week, Bijlveld told parliament her department is looking into whether it is ‘desirable and possible’ for the Netherlands to make an addition contribution to the battle against ISIS.

Bijleveld said on Friday that the Netherlands supports the aim of the mission, to ensure that a power vacuum does not develop in northern Syria, leading to new instability. ‘But how and what we are going to contribute needs to be carefully thought about,’ she said.

Doubts

Hoekstra said in his interview that no new mandate would be necessary to send in ground troops, who could operate under the same deal as the Dutch F16s which currently fly above Iraq and Syria.

However, Dutch MPs are known to have doubts about getting involved in a ground operation in the north of Syria, the Volkskrant said.

All requests for military assistance by the Dutch must be fully assessed by parliament under legislation brought in following the Srebrenica massacre.

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