The Dutch government has said it made plans to join the US-led fight against the militant "Islamic State" (IS) group in Syria. With jets already in neighboring Iraq, PM Rutte said the F-16s could "prevent more attacks."
"Only by taking away ISIS's safe havens in Iraq and Syria can we prevent more attacks," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Friday, using another acronym for IS.
"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."
The Dutch have been carrying out airstrikes for months in neighboring Iraq, and had previously refused to extend the mission to Syria. However, after repeated requests from the United States and France, Rutte decided Friday to expand the operation into eastern Syria with several F-16s jets already stationed in neighboring Iraq.
Meanwhile, the Dutch Cabinet has sent a letter to Parliament outlining the decision reached on Friday. Parliament is expected to discuss the decision reached Friday in the coming days.
Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert added that the coalition would "make more progress" against IS.
US welcomes expanded role
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter made a statement praising the decision on Friday in Washington.
"I am grateful for Minister Hennis-Plasschaert's immediate action following last week's meeting, and for the continuing commitment from the Dutch people to this fight."
"The lasting defeat of ISIL must be a global undertaking, because it is a global threat."
smm/bw (AFP, AP, Reuters)