Dutch F-16 fighter jets will end bombing missions against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria at the end of the year, their government said on Friday.

“Cabinet has decided not to prolong the use of F-16’s in the fight against Islamic State past Dec. 31,” the Dutch cabinet said in a statement.

Four Dutch F-16s have been striking the militant group in Iraq since October 2014 and operations were expanded when the F-16s flew their first missions into Syria in early 2016.

“The end of the military battle against Islamic State is in sight,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Friday according to Reuters.

“At the same time IS in Iraq has transformed itself into an underground organisation that primarily focuses on [terror] attacks,” he reportedly told journalists during his weekly press conference.

The Dutch input in Iraq will shift from offensives against IS to strengthening safety across Iraq “in order for people to safely return home and get on with their lives,” the government said.

A maximum of 50 Dutch troops will be deployed to northern Iraq to “train to keep areas safe that have been liberated from IS.”


  1. Really? I think they are pulling out very early. I wonder why? Risk of jets getting embroiled with Russia aircraft or air defence systems?

    • Or perhaps the Dutch have no agenda other than countering ISIS and as the threat that they pose changes, so must the counter measures.

    • There is zero chance of that. The Dutch won’t be penetrating that far into Syria and all of the Russian’s actions to date show that they really, really don’t want a confrontation with the West or Israel. They may talk a good game, but their actions prove otherwise.

      The reality is probably more prosaic, there may not be the taskings there to justify it, budgets are always a concern and the Dutch will need to preserve the remaining hours and parts for their F-16’s before they’re replaced by F-35.

  2. I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised to hear that Russia has upgraded Syria’s air defence systems as a show of force in the coming weeks.

    • Upgrading the Syrian air defence system?

      I suspect that thats the last thing they’ll do. They may try and do some remedial training with the Syrians or change their ROE to stop them shooting down Russian aircraft but I suspect providing more advanced systems for the Syrians to mis-use is far down the list. They may also insist on the Syrian’s ensuring that any activity with Iran and Hezbollah is kept as far away as possible from Russian forces as possible as the Israeli’s are clearly not going to stop. The Russian’s would also have to fund those systems too as there’s no way the Syrians could pay, and money is tight in the Russian defence budget at present.

      Although lots of people keep saying ‘give the Syrians S-400 or S-300’ I do wonder whether the Russian’s would want one of their latest systems in use by the Syrian’s because if the Israeli’s continue to strike with impunity that would affect Russian arm’s sales. No-one is going to buy a system that has failed in it’s primary task (although it has to be said quite why people buy Russian SAM’s in the first place is a mystery as they’ve been defeated relentlessly since 1973).

  3. I wonder at what stage the RAF will withdraw Tornado / Typhoon and just use Reaper against ISIS boltholes?

    Or, with Russia and Assad on the scene, the “other agenda” as Steven points out, and remain as is.

    • I saw this, someone else linked it.

      It seems everywhere except Europe is expanding its military, especially in Asia.

      UK politicians eyes always on votes, the next election, and the trough.

      Not Defence where it’s perceived there is less interest.

      I’d hoped the Russian situation had changed that.

    • I wonder where the politicians will try to lay the blame when they’re inevitably exposed for cutting our defence capabilities way too far?
      Never mind, we’re still world leaders in spin & witty put-downs.


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