Denmark expands military mission against Islamic State into Syria

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark said on Tuesday it will expand its mission against Islamic State into Syria as well as Iraq, as part of a U.S.-led coalition now operating in the region.

Parliament approved deploying seven F-16 fighters, a C-130J transport aircraft and military personal, including special operations forces and support staff, for the Syria campaign.

Denmark took part in coalition air strikes from October 2014 to October 2015 in Iraq, but not in Syria. It was unclear when the mission would begin, but Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said last month Danish forces would join the campaign by the middle of the year.

Four of the seven F-16 fighter jets will take part in the air strikes; three will be kept in reserve. The C-130J will drop supplies to allied forces and aid for civilians.

The special operations forces, about 60 personnel, will conduct a broad range of missions throughout Iraq and Syria with the coalition forces.

Denmark’s expanded mission into Syria comes after direct requests from France and the United States.

The defense ministry said last month the larger mission would make Denmark one of the highest contributors per capita in the fight against the militant group.

By Erik Matzen; editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, Larry King