September 18, 2014 / 3:10 PM / 5 years ago

Belgium offers forces to campaign against Islamic State

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium is willing to offer fighter jets and special forces to the U.S.-led coalition to fight Islamic State militants in Iraq, the country’s defense ministry said on Thursday.

Defense Minister Pieter De Crem has outlined three possible contributions, but is still awaiting a formal request from the United States, a ministry spokesman said.

Any Belgian engagement would require the approval of parliament, although there appears to be a very broad majority in favor of action.

The first contribution would be the stationing of six F-16 jets, along with 120 pilots and support staff, to support ground troops. The second would be to provide two C-130 cargo planes to take troops and material to Iraq.

The third suggestion is to send about 35 special force soldiers to advise local troops.

The United States is attempting to organize a coalition of Western and allied countries to counter Islamic State, which has seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, reaching up to the border with NATO member Turkey

U.S. officials say several Arab countries have offered to commit fighter jets.

Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Ralph Boulton

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