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Netherlands joined US-led coalition air strikes in Syria

February 17, 2016 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Netherlands joined a US-led bombing campaign against Daesch targets in Syria. The Dutch were already participating in the coalition by carrying out air strikes in Iraq with four F-16s specializing in close air support of ground operations by Iraqi forces.

Two RNlAF F-16AM’s with # J-511 in the foreground fly beside a KC-10 Extender from 908th EARS on September 18th, 2012 while on duty over Afghanistan. [USAF photo by MSgt. Scott MacKay]

In the past the Netherlands insisted that it would not extend the air strikes over Syria without a UN mandate.

They deploy the F-16s above Syria, in particular to stop the pipeline leading from Syria into Iraq, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters.

The four Dutch F-16 jet fighters which have been pounding Islamic State (IS) targets in Iraq since October 2014 would "remain active until July 1 over the enlarged zone," the government statement said.

Late last year in the wake of the November Paris attacks, the Dutch Government received a request from allies the US and France to broaden its campaign of air support against Daesch jihadists.

Extending the military operation became possible when the Dutch Labour Party, junior partner in the coalition government, said a few weeks ago it was open to the idea, creating a parliamentary majority for it.

In a brief statement outlining military operations carried out last week by Dutch forces, the ministry said the planes flew around 10 missions over Iraq and eastern Syria.

The airstrikes were directed against “combat positions, military equipment and strategic aims of the IS terror organization,” the ministry says, without detailing when and where the attacks took place.