Denmark to transport weapons to Iraq

After previously only offering to aid the humanitarian effort in northern Iraq, the Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday decided to send weapons to Kurdish forces fighting Isis. Some 55 troops will accompany the transport.

Denmark to transport weapons to Iraq
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. 

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Six arrested in Denmark raid for suspected Isis links

Six men suspected of being members of the so-called Islamic State (Isis) group or funding it were arrested in an anti-terror raid in Denmark on Tuesday, police said.

Six arrested in Denmark raid for suspected Isis links
File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The suspects, whose identities were not disclosed, are aged between 27 and 35, police in East Jutland said.

Two of the suspects were arrested in the Danish capital Copenhagen and the four others in Aarhus, Denmark’s second-biggest city.

“Two of the people arrested, a man aged 29 from the region of Aarhus and a 30-year-old man living in Copenhagen, are suspected of penal code violations… for having travelled to Syria in 2014, where they were recruited by the terrorist organisation Islamic State,” police said in a statement.

The 29-year-old is also suspected of having tried to return to Syria in early 2015 to rejoin Isis.

Under his instruction, the four other suspects are accused of having acted as “intermediaries” and having sent money to the organisation.

According to Danish intelligence service PET, at least 160 people have travelled from Denmark to fight in Syria or Iraq. About a third of them have been killed in action, 32 are still there and around half of them have either returned to Denmark or another country.

Jihadism is considered the biggest threat to Denmark’s national security, according to PET.