ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Dutch government on Friday confirmed they are considering a request from the United States to support security in northeast Syria, but approval from the majority of Dutch parties remains uncertain.
In a letter to the parliament, Dutch government ministers said the US had asked 30 coalition countries, including the Netherlands, to provide support for a continued anti-Islamic State mission in Syria.
Dutch Minister of Defense Ank Bijleveld signed the letter while Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the US had officially asked the Netherlands to “contribute to a security mechanism for the northeast of Syria.”
The mechanism aims to prevent a new power vacuum from being created in the area and to prevent renewed instability. It is also meant to protect the gains made in the war against the so-called Islamic State.
On May 29, the Dutch Minister of Defense received a concrete request from the US government through the American embassy in The Hague for a “Dutch contribution in the fight against ISIS in Syria, including support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF),” the letter stated.
The Dutch government said they are currently examining possibilities for additional contribution in the fight against the Islamic State and would inform the parliament promptly.
Dutch newspaper Volkskrant reported that the US requested the Netherlands to resume their F-16 mission over Syria that was halted in January, repatriate Dutch Islamic State fighters and their children, and give non-lethal aid to the SDF.
There were reports in May the Dutch government had received a request to contribute to a safe zone.
Most Dutch political parties at the time were reluctant to support such a request.
The Dutch army has been significantly weakened from budget cuts, and recently ended its mission in Mali because of financial shortfalls.
This is the first time the government has publicly confirmed a request from the US.
However, the letter did not reference American plans to create a safe zone on the Turkish border to help maintain stability there, after the drawdown of American troops.
In early June, the German government confirmed its support for Washington’s plan to establish a security zone in northeastern Syria.
Turkey attacked the Kurdish-majority region of Afrin with Russian permission west of the Euphrates in January 2018 where no American troops were present.
Ankara has threatened to invade the remainder of Kurdish-controlled territory in Syria east of the Euphrates River where US forces serve alongside the Kurdish-led SDF after the area’s liberation from Islamic State fighters.
So far, the US presence and its diplomatic efforts have contributed to preventing a Turkish invasion.
Amjad Othman, a spokesperson and founding member of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the political wing of the SDF, previously told Kurdistan 24 that his group would welcome any decision by countries to create a security mechanism in Syria’s northeast.
There is a need to protect the region in the east of the Euphrates to end Turkish threats, Othman said.
“If countries such as the Netherlands would join such a safe zone, it would be good, because European countries can [create] a balance between different allies in the area.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany