— Martin Lidegaard (@martinlidegaard) August 21, 2014
The Hercules C-130 aircraft could leave as early as next week. Photo: Henning Bagger/Scanpix
The Danish contribution to the US mission in northern Iraq will not be limited to humanitarian aid. The Foreign Affairs Committee (Udenrigspolitisk Nævn) decided on Thursday that Denmark will also transport weapons and send a contingent of troops.
“Denmark’s government is ready to support the fight against [the Islamic State] with a Hercules air transport of light arms and ammunition and logistics. Also more humanitarian aid,” Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard wrote on Twitter.
Denmark will send a Hercules C-130 aircraft carrier carrying humanitarian aid to those who have fled the forward march of the Islamic State, as well as deliver weapons and other military equipment to the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces in the area. Around 55 soldiers will accompany the mission.
Lidegaard said that the Danish military action would be limited.
“It is an isolated transport action that we have committed to. We have not committed to either F-16 jets or as what the Americans would call ‘boots on the ground’,” Lidegaard said following the committee’s five-hour meeting on Thursday, according to Politiken.
The mission in Iraq has the support of all of Denmark’s political parties with the exception of the left-wing Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten). The Foreign Affairs Committee’s recommendation is expected to be approved by parliament on Wednesday.
“As soon as the green button is pushed in parliament, the plane is ready to take flight. The crew will consist of 55 men and a small portion of them will be bodyguards as the mission is not without risk. We think it is incredibly import to bring weapons and ammunition to those who are protecting civilians against [the Islamic State],” Defence Minister Nicolai Wammen told Berlingske Nyhedsbureau.
Denmark had previously only mentioned contributing humanitarian aid to Iraq before the change of course in Thursday’s meeting. The Foreign Affairs Committee met shortly after The Guardian reported that the Islamic State, the terrorist group formerly known as Isis, had taken a Dane hostage. The Foreign Ministry has not confirmed that information, and Lidegaard denied that the report had any influence on the committee’s decision.