DENMARK TO SEND F-16S, TROOPS TO COMBAT IS IN IRAQ, SYRIA

COPENHAGEN — The Danish government on Friday announced plans to send special forces and F-16 fighter jets into Iraq and Syria to join the fight against the Islamic State (IS).

“The government wants to intensify the fight against the terrorist organization IS… It is a serious decision to send Danish men and women on mission in the world’s trouble spots,” said Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen in a press statement.

“We must never give up the fight for peace and freedom,” Rasmussen added.

The proposal to intensify Denmark’s military contribution to the fight against IS from the middle of 2016 has received a wide cross-party support at a meeting with Danish foreign policy committee on Friday.

The contribution of Danish forces will consist of redeployment of seven F-16 fighter jets, a transport aircraft and some 400 Danish soldiers including pilots and support personnel. In addition, the Danish government has decided to reinforce a number of civilian efforts.

Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen said the fight against IS is “one of the most fundamental challenges in our time”.

“I am very pleased that we are planning to redeploy the F-16s back to fight IS. IS is under pressure and we must increase the pressure on them on all fronts,” the minister said in a statement.

It is not the first time that Denmark has sent troops to fight the IS. Danish F-16 jets returned home for repairs and rest in October last year after having taken part in the coalition’s air strikes against IS in Iraq since late 2014.

Jensen said the fight against IS will be long and the ideology of this terrorist organization can not be defeated by military means alone.

“Therefore, the government will also increase its civilian efforts: stabilizing the liberated areas, curbing IS’ funding sources, stopping the influx of foreign fighters and countering IS’ propaganda,” the minister said.

The Danish Minister of Defense, Peter Christensen, said the fight against IS “is among our highest ranking priorities right now.”

“The Danish government intends to combat IS at its stronghold. This is why we plan to bring back our F-16 fighters into the mission in both Iraq and Syria,” Christensen said in a statement.

The Danish government expects to take the proposal before parliament for a first reading on April 1 and the second reading on April 19, 2016.(PNA/Xinhua/northboundasia.com