THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch government is sending six F-16 fighter jets to strike at the Islamic State extremist group in Iraq, Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher announced Wednesday.
The Cabinet met for hours behind closed doors before approving the deployment of six planes and two reserve jets along with 250 pilots and support staff. The Dutch also will send about 130 military trainers to Iraq to school Iraqi and Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State group on the ground.
Asscher said the Dutch government's decision was in response to the Iraqi government's appeals for help from the international community. He added that the government doesn't currently see an international mandate for joining airstrikes in Syria.
Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said the Dutch jets will likely be based in Jordan. Their mission initially will be for up to a year.
Asscher acknowledged that the Dutch role in the fight against Islamic State brings risks not only to the troops and pilots involved, but also at home.
"The Netherlands will gain a higher profile among jihadis. We are ready," Asscher said. "The threat profile is monitored permanently and our security services are prepared."
The terror threat level in the Netherlands is currently "substantial," the second highest of four levels used by the country's anti-terror coordinator.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, called for support for organizations documenting human rights abuses in Syria so that perpetrators can eventually be brought to justice.
"These crimes are being committed now, so we have to talk to witnesses and Syrian refugees who have managed to flee the country," Timmermans said in a statement. "You can gather a huge amount of information. That is the only way to ensure that criminals do not avoid their punishment."