By a vote of 94-9, the Danish parliament on Thursday approved a military mission in Iraq.
Denmark will send four F-16 fighter jets to join the international coalition fighting the Islamic State, the terror organisation known alternately as Isis or ISIL, in northern Iraq. An additional three jets will be used for logistical support. The jets will be accompanied by up to 140 Danish military personnel. Additionally, Denmark will deploy around 20 staff officers and up to 120 military trainers.
“Today, Denmark provides yet another solid contribution to the fight against the brutal terrorist organisation ISIL. We are part of a very broad coalition consisting of approximately 50 other countries, including ten countries from the region,” Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said.
“ISIL constitutes an serious security threat against the people in the region, as well as Denmark. Therefore I am happy that there is a large majority in support of our contribution,” he added.
Lidegaard stressed that the military contribution is but “one element in a coherent and broad strategy to fight ISIL”.
The defence minister, Nicolai Wammen, said the Danish jets will leave for Kuwait on Thursday before flying on to northern Iraq.
“The Danish Defence is prepared to do the job, and we have some of the best trained soldiers in the world ready to deploy on the shortest possible notice. Today, our F-16 fighter jets will take off followed later by our capacity building staff and the staff manning the coalition headquarters,” he said.
The resolution to approve the military contribution took an unexpected turn on Wednesday night in parliament. Although Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt had already secured broad political support for the mission, what was expected to be a formality ended up in a long night of political discussions. A vote on the resolution was pushed back until Thursday morning when, despite the drama from the night before, it was approved by a wide margin.
Only the left-wing Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) and independent MP Uffe Elbæk voted against the resolution.