Belgian F-16s to join “Coalition of the Willing”

The Chamber of Representatives has given the green light to allow six Belgian Air Force F-16 fighter planes to leave for the Middle East where they will take part in the international coalition operation against IS. The F-16s left for Greece at around 4:30pm on Friday. Now parliament has given its approval for their participation in the international coalition operation they will fly on to Jordan on Saturday morning.

From their base in Jordan the Belgian planes will carry out missions above Iraq.

On Tuesday the United States government sent an official written request to Belgium asking our forces to take part in a so-called “Coalition of the Willing” that would target IS positions in Iraq.

As Belgium is currently without a federal government, parliament has to approve any new foreign military interventions. The caretaker government approved Belgium’s participation on Wednesday, as did the relevant parliamentary select committees.

The final green light was given by federal MPs in the Chamber of Representatives on Friday afternoon. 114 MPs voted for Belgium’s participation in the “Coalition of the Willing", 2 voted against (from the far left PTB+) and 10 abstained.

The Belgian F-16s should carry out their first missions above Iraq by the middle of next week. The Belgian planes will operate under US command, but within the framework drawn up by the Belgian government. This allows for action in Iraq, but not in Syria.

Belgian MPs also pressed the government to guarantee that parliament would be involved in any decisions changing the duration, nature and territorial scope of the Belgian operation.