Belgian Government decides to extend air operations against ISIS into Syria

15 May 2016 (Last Updated May 15th, 2016 18:30)

The Government of Belgium has reportedly decided to extend its air strikes against ISIS into Syria, marking the next phase of the country's contribution to the international coalition effort.

F-16

The Government of Belgium has reportedly decided to extend its air strikes against ISIS into Syria, marking the next phase of the country's contribution to the international coalition effort.

The Belgian Ministry of Defence plans to send F-16 fighter aircraft to conduct air strikes against ISIS.

Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel spokesman Barend Leyts was cited by The New York Times as saying that the air strikes will be conducted as part of a partnership between Belgium and the Netherlands.

The latest decision follows suicide bomb attacks at the airport and a metro station in Brussels in March this year.

With this decision, Belgium will join with countries including the US, Canada, France, Arab countries, Turkey and Australia to fight against ISIS in Syria.

Belgium first joined the coalition to carry out air strikes against ISIS in Iraq in 2014. However, it exited the initiative in July 2015 due to unsustainable financial costs, Independent reported.

"Belgium is an important member of the coalition, and this contribution comes at a key moment in the campaign."

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter backed Belgium's decision to expand its role to fight against ISIS.

Carter said: "Belgium is an important member of the coalition, and this contribution comes at a key moment in the campaign.

"Belgian aircraft played a key role in the air campaign over Iraq from October 2014 to June 2015.

"As they return to Operation Inherent Resolve as part of a scheduled rotation with the Dutch military, Belgian F-16s now will operate with greater flexibility and coherence of effort as a result of the decision to conduct strikes in Syria as well."


Image: An F-16 aircraft in flight. Photo: courtesy of Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway.