Dutch Parliament commits soldiers, F-16s to fight ISIS in Iraq

Army training
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Derek Renaud, 34, of Angola, New York, looks on as an Afghan national army soldier tries zeroing his weapon at Kabul Military Training Center, March 17. Renaud, officer in charge of the range during qualification and zeroing of M16s, Source: Wikimedia

The Council of Ministers in the Netherlands has committed military personnel to the international fight against Islamic State (ISIS). In a press conference early Wednesday evening, Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher and Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis announced that the Netherlands will deploy six F-16s for air strikes only in Iraq, another two F-16s to be used as backups, in addition to sending a military defence team of 250 soldiers. The Netherlands will not take part in military missions in Syria.

"For military operations in Syria, there is currently no international agreement on an internationally legal mandate," Asscher told reporters.

Simultaneously, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Foreign Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans are in New York addressing both the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.

Minister Hennis told reporters that the F-16 fighter aircrafts which will be used to carry out military actions in Iraq, are to be prepared at a location outside Iraq. They will then be deployed to camps, command posts and other ISIS targets. If needed, the Netherlands will supply further training to the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces. A total of 380 Dutch soldiers will be stationed in Iraq: 250 for the management of the F-16s, and 130 trainers. Hennis told reporters that the F-16s will be operational in one week.

Although many predicted that the Council would hold off committing troops and resources until a UN Security Council Resolution was reached, a position previously held by the Labour Party, Ministers emerged from a Council meeting with an Article 100 letter informing Parliament of participation in a military mission.

Government coalition leader VVD made it clear that a UN mandate was not a necessary precursor to intervention.

"The rapid rise of ISIS and its affiliated organizations pose a direct threat to the region and causes instability on the borders of Europe, with potentially far-reaching implications for our own safety," the Article 100 letter read.

To date, the Netherlands has sent 1000 helmets and vests to the Iraqi army, in addition to €6.5 million euros in emergency aid for northern Iraq, announced by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen in late August.

Earlier on Wednesday, U.S. President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly asking for the broadest possible international coalition to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He was slated to preside over a special meeting of the Security Council, where Prime Minister Rutte laid out the Netherlands position on international jihadism.

The first phase of the mission is expected to cost 150 million euros.

The United States led formation of the international coalition fighting ISIS. It includes Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Turkey and the United Kingdom, along with five Arab nations, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.