September 18, 2014 / 7:30 AM / 5 years ago

Netherlands may contribute F-16 fighter planes to counter IS: report

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Netherlands will consider contributing F-16 fighter jets to help counter the Islamic State group, a Dutch daily said on Thursday, but the government said any decision on action must await planning consultations with the United States.

The Trouw newspaper, citing government sources, said the Netherlands would contribute an unspecified number of F-16 fighter jets to air strikes against insurgent targets in Iraq and possibly Syria.

“We don’t rule out anything, but there’s no question of taking a decision yet,” defense minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert told reporters. “The military planning is under way and that takes time.”

Defense Ministry spokesman Jos van der Leij said the Netherlands had contributed personnel to planning at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

The Islamic State group has seized swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq and is accused by international organizations of carrying out massacres of civilians. The United States has launched air strikes against some IS targets and is attempting to forge an international coalition to counter the group.

The Netherlands was not among the nations approached by U.S. President Barack Obama at a NATO meeting in Wales earlier this month, when he was seeking to build a coalition of allies against the hardline Islamic offshoot of al Qaeda.

The Dutch contribution, to be discussed at a weekly Cabinet meeting of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government on Friday, must also be approved by a majority in the 150-seat parliament.

Trouw reported that the parties needed to win enough votes in the legislature were behind the mission.

Dutch official said in August the Netherlands would consider providing arms, but gave no additional details.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Catherine Evans

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