THE HAGUE, Netherlands: Dutch F-16s on Tuesday carried out their first strikes on the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq, the defense ministry said, with militants possibly killed.
“Two Dutch F-16s this morning used weapons for the first time in Iraq against the IS terror group. They dropped three bombs on armed IS vehicles that were shooting at (Kurdish) Peshmerga fighters in the north of the country,” the statement said.
“Vehicles were destroyed in the attack and IS fighters possibly killed,” it added.
The F-16s are being deployed as close air support, backing up Iraqi and Kurdish ground troops fighting IS militants.
The United States has been building an international coalition for an air campaign against IS since first launching air strikes in August.
Britain and France have joined the strikes in Iraq and five Arab nations — Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — have taken part in Syrian raids.
The Netherlands has sent six F-16s to take part in the campaign, plus two in reserve.
Apart from the F-16s, the Dutch will also deploy 250 military personnel and 130 trainers for the Iraqi military.
The Netherlands has said it would not join air strikes in Syria without a UN mandate.
But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Tuesday that the town of Kobane on the Syrian-Turkish border was about to fall to IS, and that only troops on the ground could defeat the Islamists in the wider conflict.