Tuesday 02 June 2020

US wants the Netherlands to supply ground support in Syria

The US is asking the Netherlands to supply ground military resources as part of a new mission to Syria, the Volkskrant said on Thursday, quoting US ambassador Pete Hoekstra.

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

Last week, defence minister Ank Bijleveld briefed parliament on the request, which was formally made at the end of May.

Officials are now looking into whether it is ‘desirable and possible’ for the Netherlands to make an addition contribution to the battle against ISIS, the minister said.

Hoekstra said 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.

Trump

US president Donald Trump said last year that the US would pull out of Syria because ‘IS had been beaten’, a statement that was criticised by many countries, including the Netherlands.

Trump’s security advisor John Bolton said a month later that the US would only quit when IS was fully defeated and when Turkey can guarantee the safety of Kurdish militias.

Since then, the number of American troops has been scaled back by around 50% to 1,000.

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