THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch government said Friday it plans to join the U.S.-led coalition targeting the Islamic State group in Syria with airstrikes.
The Dutch have for months been carrying out airstrikes in neighboring Iraq using four F-16 jets, but have balked at extending the mission to Syria. But after requests from the United States and France, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's two-party coalition government decided Friday to broaden the jets' mandate to eastern Syria.
"We will have our F-16s be more efficiently deployed by also having them be active in the Syrian part of the conflict, particularly hitting, for example, training centers and other facilities which replenish the capacity of ISIL to be active in the Iraqi side of the conflict," Rutte said, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.
Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said the decision means the coalition will "make more progress" against IS.
The Cabinet has sent a letter outlining Friday's' decision to Parliament, where it will likely be discussed in coming days. Most Dutch legislators support airstrikes in Syria.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter welcomed the move and praised the Dutch people for their commitment toward fighting extremists.
"The lasting defeat of ISIL must be a global undertaking, because it is a global threat," Carter said in a statement.
This story has been corrected to show the accurate spelling of the defense minister's surname is Hennis-Plasschaert, not Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaer.