Dutch jets to bomb Islamic State targets in Syria

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 29, 2016 9:49 AM

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The Dutch government on Friday agreed to extend its role in the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State to include the bombing of targets in Syria, it said in a statement.

A Dutch squadron of six F-16 warplanes is already stationed in the region, but has been limited to striking Islamic State positions in Iraq.

The aircraft will now also target sites in eastern Syria, it said.

"The progress that has been made in Iraq won't stand if IS remains in a position to support the fight in Iraq from eastern Syria," Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said.

The Netherlands is also considering sending more military equipment to support to Iraqi fighters battling the militants.

Extending the operation was made possible after the Dutch Labour Party, the junior partner in the coalition government, said this week it was open to the idea, creating a parliamentary majority.

The attacks in Paris in November, in which Islamic State claimed responsibility for 130 deaths, had already led France and Britain to increase their bombing campaigns in the region.

Foreign military interventions are especially sensitive in the Netherlands, which led a disastrous peacekeeping mission in Bosnia in 1995, when 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb forces.

A previous Dutch government collapsed in 2010 over participation in military operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan, where 2,000 troops were active.

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Writing by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Alison Williams)