Dutch F-16's ready to deploy in ISIS fight

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In the international fight against ISIS and the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and possibly also Syria, The Netherlands will contribute with the deployment of F-16's. According to sources in the Cabinet, Kurdish resistance forces will also get Dutch weapons, Trouw reports. 

According to the paper, the plan will be voted on in the Ministers' Council on Friday, where it looks like it will receive enough support. The VVD would take the Dutch effort further, but is behind this plan, as is the PvdA, Trouw writes. The UN Security Council will meet to discuss IS in New York on Friday, where Minister Frans Timmermans of Foreign Affairs will be able to present the Dutch decision.

At the helm of the international coalition of countries willing to contribute to the new war on terror is the United States, who only wants those countries involved that are ready and willing to do all they can. A meeting was held during the NATO Summit in Wales two weeks ago to gather members for the growing coalition against IS. The Netherlands was not present at this meeting, which Minister Timmermans blamed not on Dutch reluctance but on the mere size of the meeting room. One source in the Cabinet tells Trouw, however, that it is certainly the Dutch contribution to the struggle so far with 1000 helmets and bullet-proof vests delivered to the Kurds that the US has found too weak. Especially compared to Albania, who sent 10,000 kalashnikovs, 22 million bullets, 32,000 artillery grenades and 10,000 hand grenades.

Now the Netherlands is pushing F-16's on the board, showing the willingness and commitment that the US stipulates. The Netherlands has in the past restricted its own involvement, such as in Libya in 2011 when its F-16's could only uphold a no-fly-zone, and not participate in bombing actions.

Unlike the US and Australia, The Netherlands will not contribute special units such as Commando's on the ground who are needed to point out goals for the fighter jets, as well as to support the troops of the Iraqi army.

The Netherlands is also sending weapons to the area. Because the Dutch Defense has a limited stock of weapons, and also because there are no weapons manufacturing plants on Dutch soil, these weapons will have to be bought. Trouw writes that they may come from Eastern European countries.

The paper writes that the size of the Dutch contribution is not yet known, neither is it clear when the Dutch effort will be deployed. American President Barack Obama wants to 'eliminate' ISIS within a period of three years. For The Netherlands, their contribution is limited this year, as five of the country's F-16's are currently stationed in Poland, in accordance with a NATO agreement, to protect the airspace around the Baltic States. When that mission is complete, there will be more capacity for other missions such as those to come in the Islamic State's caliphate.

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