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Daily Dutch News in English

The Netherlands sends 200 soldiers and F-16s to Libya

The Netherlands will contribute 200 soldiers to NATO military operations in Libya. Also, six F-16 fighter jets, a mine hunter ship and one KDC-10 tanker aircraft to enforce a Libyan arms embargo, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said today.

The F-16’s will patrol over the Mediterranean to protect ships from NATO. If NATO requests, the jets can also be assigned to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya.

It is not obvious that the soldiers will shoot, thinks Hillen Minister of Defence. “They are mainly to guard above sea.”

According to Defence, the entire operation can be operational at the end of this week. The F-16’s and minesweeper are available for three months. The KDC-10 tanker aircraft until early April.

The Dutch contribution to the NATO operation in Libya will cost a total of 20 million Euros. The money comes from the HGIS, a jar of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It is expected that the House of Representatives will accept the mission, because it is in line with what most parties wanted. Not all party leaders were able to respond yet.

The first reactions of CDA and VVD are positive. The SP does not support the plan.

Mounting tension between European allies overshadow Libyan operation about who should command the mission to protect civilians and enforce a no-fly zone in Libya.

Six Dutch F-16s left already on Thursday from the Airbase in Leeuwarden to Sardinia to monitor the weapon embargo against Libya.

Netherlands wants to participate as quickly in the joint enforcement of the no-fly zone over Libya since NATO has taking over command, said Prime Minister Mark Rutte on the night of Thursday to Friday in Brussels.