Lawmakers in Copenhagen have confirmed a government proposal for Denmark to take part in airstrikes against the "Islamic State." Seven F-16 fighter jets took off for Iraq from the Karup Air Base on Thursday.
In a vote of 94 to nine, with many abstentions, Danish lawmakers sent four operational planes and three reserve jets to northern Iraq on Thursday, in a bid to lend support to an international coalition currently conducting airstrikes against the self-proclaimed "Islamic State" (IS).
In addition to the jets, Denmark is also sending 120 soldiers and 40 support staff, who are to stay on for 12 months to train Iraqi soldiers and Kurdish ground forces. Defense Minister Nicolai Wammen said the troops were to be based in Kuwait and would not deploy in Syria.
"It was a correct decision, but also a difficult one," Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said after the vote, which saw members of the leftist Unity List vote against the government proposal and 76 lawmakers abstain.
Thursday's vote was largely a formality, after the Danish government pledged support last week to the international coalition formed to combat IS. Led by Washington, the "coalition of the willing" also includes a host of European and Arab allies contributing multifariously, from carrying out airstrikes to providing military assistance and training - and humanitarian aid.
IS, a Sunni extremist organization, has been seizing territory and perpetrating violence in northern Iraq and Syria for the past months, in a bid to establish a caliphate that comprises Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian occupied territories.
glb/msh (dpa, AP)