The Netherlands will join the United States in its ongoing air campaign to combat Islamic State group militants in Iraq but will not participate in the U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria. The Dutch will send military personnel and fighter jets to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground, Dutch officials announced Wednesday.
"The Netherlands will make six F-16s available for the first phase of the campaign, for one year," Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher told reporters on Wednesday after an emergency meeting at the Hague, according to the Agence-France Presse.
In addition to the fighter jets, up to 380 Dutch military personnel could be operational in Iraq within the week, according to the Wall Street Journal. Among the military personnel will be 130 instructors, who are expected to support local forces on the ground in Iraq.
The Netherlands will not be joining the ongoing U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria, Asscher said. The legality behind the military operation in Syria is still unclear, since Syrian president Bashar Assad did not request international help to fight the militants, unlike the Iraqi government.
"In Iraq's case there is a clear request. A request by Iraq's legitimate government gives us a sufficient mandate to deploy the Dutch military,” Asscher said.
President Barack Obama made the case for the U.S.-led air campaign in Syria before the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday. Under United Nations Charter Article 51, the U.S. needs to prove that fighting the militants in Syria is necessary for “individual or collective self-defense.” In order to do that the U.S. must prove that the current government in Syria was “unwilling or unable” to combat the militant group on its own.
France has also agreed to join the U.S air campaign in Iraq and sent its first fighter jet last week.