Britain, Belgium and Denmark to join U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq

The Los Angeles Times reports: The British Parliament voted Friday to join U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq against the extremist group Islamic State.

The motion approved by a vote of 524 to 43 does not allow Britain’s air force to also conduct operations in neighboring Syria, where the militants have seized large swaths of territory.

Prime Minister David Cameron made the case for military intervention to lawmakers, who were recalled to London during a recess for Friday’s vote.

“The question before the house today is how we keep the British people safe from the threat posed by ISIL, and in particular what role our armed forces should play in the international coalition to dismantle and ultimately destroy what President Obama has rightly called this network of death,” Cameron said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

Britain plans to contribute six Tornado fighter aircraft and their crews to the coalition forces, along with surveillance and intelligence capabilities. The aircraft, based in Cyprus, have already begun flying reconnaissance missions over Iraq and will be ready for combat within hours of the vote.

France was the first European country to conduct airstrikes in the current air campaign in Iraq. Belgian lawmakers also voted Friday to join the U.S.-led coalition, contributing six F-16 fighter jets, news reports said.

The Danish government announced Friday that it would contribute seven F-16s along with 250 pilots and support staff. A parliamentary vote is planned but is considered a formality.

The Netherlands has also said it would take part. None of the European countries plan to operate in Syria. [Continue reading…]

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