ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Dutch government has announced it would end it’s F-16 anti-Islamic State (IS) mission but would continue to train Kurdish troops and help the new NATO-mission in Baghdad.
“The end of the military battle against IS is in sight. At the same, time IS developed itself in Iraq to an underground movement that continues to be a threat through attacks,” the Dutch government said on Friday.
“This means that the Dutch mission in Iraq changes from an offensive action against IS to the strengthening of the security sector in all of Iraq to ensure Iraqis can safely return to their homes and continue their lives.”
Moreover, the Dutch government said safety for the most vulnerable groups such as Christians, Yezidi’s, and LGBTQ minorities are one of the main priorities.
The Dutch government will continue to employ 50 Dutch soldiers in the Kurdistan Region. Additionally, three to 12 Dutch soldiers will continue to train Iraqi Special Forces.
Moreover, Dutch military and civilian advisors will support the Kurdish security sector. They will back the professionalization of the Ministry of Peshmerga in the field of training and education.
The four Dutch F-16’s that take part in bombing raids in Iraq and eastern Syria will end their mission on Dec. 31, 2018.
The Dutch government will also contribute 20 military and civil experts to the NATO-capacity mission in Iraq, which will start this autumn.
“The NATO-missions focuses on strengthening the Iraqi security sector and makes an important contribution to stability and security in post-IS Iraq,” the Dutch government said.
The Dutch Army is part of the Kurdistan Training Coordination Center (KTCC) that is made up of instructors from nine countries: Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and Sweden.
While the Dutch initially trained Peshmerga soldiers that were fighting IS through the KTCC mission, the assignment is now slightly changing. The Dutch Army now trains Kurdish instructors so that they can take over the training mission in the future.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany