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Poland ready to send F-16s on mission against Daesh

June 16, 2016 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Poland is likely to send four F-16 fighter jets to take part in a reconnaissance mission in the Middle East prior to the NATO summit scheduled to be held in Warsaw on July 8-9, Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said Wednesday.

PolAF F-16C block 52 #4058 from 6 elt is coming in for landing at Leeuwarden AB on April 11th, 2016 during exercise Frisian Flag. [Photo by John de Winter]

The minister said his country is prepared to deploy four F-16 fighters in a NATO reconnaissance mission against ISIL fighters in the Middle East.

It would be Poland's first contribution to the effort, though the minister, Antoni Macierewicz, said they would not take part in combat.

Macierewicz spoke Wednesday in Brussels, following the NATO defense ministers' two-day meeting in Brussels.

He said the F-16s are to go on a "reconnaissance mission in the area" and should arrive in the Middle East before the July 8-9 NATO summit, to be held in Warsaw. He did not state in which country they would be based.

According to Macierewicz, all the preparations for the mission have been completed, the crew is ready for departure. "We are ready, the crews are ready for takeoff," Macierewicz said. The decision now awaits approval of the president, seen as a formality.

Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with the army loyal to President Bashar Assad fighting several opposition factions and militant organizations, including Daesh.

A US-led coalition of over 60 nations has been conducting airstrikes on Daesh targets in Iraq and Syria since 2014.

Additional images:

PolAF F-16C block 52 #4052 from 6 elt is climbing steeply during a performance. The jet was specially painted to form a Polish demo team. [Photo by Piotr Lysakowski]

PolAF F-16D block 52 #4086 from 10 elt spotted during landing at Leeuwarden AFB on April 17th, 2015 during exercise Frisian Flag. [Photo by John de Winter]

PolAF F-16C block 52 #4056 from 6 elt during the Tigermeet at Konya AB on May 8th, 2015. [Photo by John de Winter]