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Denmark to send F-16 jets to battle Isis in Iraq

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Denmark to send F-16 jets to battle Isis in Iraq
The PM announced the military contribution at a press conference on Friday. Photo: Keld Navntoft/Scanpix
12:53 CEST+02:00
The fighter jets could leave as early as next week, the prime minister said at a press conference on Friday.
Denmark will send seven F-16 fighter jets to fight the terror organisation Isis in Iraq, PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt announced on Friday. 
 
The prime minister said that Denmark received a request from the United States on Thursday to contribute to the air campaign in Iraq. 
 
She stressed that Danish jets would not carry out actions in Syria. 
 
"We were asked to contribute in Iraq, it fits well with what the coalition wants. With regards to Iraq we have a concrete request from the Iraqi government," Thorning-Schmidt said.
 
The decision to take part in the campaign in Iraq is expected to receive the support of a majority in parliament and the F-16s could be dispatched next week. They will be deployed for 12 months.
 
The country had also been asked by the US to send troops to help train Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, she said.
 
"We don't have enough information about the training exercise yet to say who will contribute with (what), so at the moment we can't rule anything out," she said.
 
"What we can rule out is that they would take part in fighting while they are in Iraq," she added.
 
Thorning-Schmidt, who in her speech to the UN General Assembly called Isis a  “horrific and brutal terrorist organisation”, stressed that other means would need to complement the military action.
 
“The terror organisation Isis cannot be defeated with military means alone,” she said at a Friday press conference.
 
She added that she understands that Danes might be hesitant to get involved militarily in Iraq but that she feels “there are many Danes who are deeply worried about Isis”.
 
Military jets from the United States, France and a number of Arabic countries have been carrying out targeted attacks against Isis in Iraq. The Americans have also bombed Isis targets within Syria. 
 
The British parliament is also debating a military contribution, while both the Netherlands and Belgium have committed six fighter jets each. 
 
"I am very pleased that there now is a broad coalition, including countries in the region who want to... contribute," Thorning-Schmidt said at Friday's press conference.
 
Coalition strikes continued on Friday
US warplanes launched new air strikes against jihadists in Syria and Iraq on Friday. American planes destroyed four tanks operated by militants in Syria as well as several vehicles and jihadist positions in neighbouring Iraq, the Pentagon said.
 
The coalition also bombed oil facilities in east and northeast Syria where Isis jihadists extract crude for sale on the black market, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.
 
In recent days Washington and its allies have taken aim at the funding sources of what US President Barack Obama has branded a "network of death".
 
Experts say sales of oil from Syria and Iraq earn IS between $1 million and $3 million a day.
 
Obama is eager to build the broadest possible coalition to tackle Isis, which has captured large areas in Syria and Iraq, declaring an Islamic "caliphate".
 
FBI director James Comey said there was "no doubt" that jihadists would try to stage revenge attacks in the United States.
 
"The logic is that if they aspire to be the leader of the global jihad you don't get there without striking America," he said.
 
British Prime Minister David Cameron warned on Friday that the military action could last years, as parliament debated whether to participate in strikes in Iraq.
 
The "hallmarks" of the campaign would be "patience and persistence, not shock and awe", he said.
 
In announcing Denmark's contributions, Thorning-Schmidt said that she would present a plan to parliament that approves military involvement for up to 12 months. 
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