The U.K. Approves Anti-ISIS Airstrikes, Joining A Handful Of U.S. Allies To Combat The Threat
The international coalition to "degrade and destroy" ISIS is taking hold: The UK has become the latest member state to pledge military involvement. On Friday, the British Parliament voted to launch airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq. After a seven-hour debate, MPs voted 524 to 43 in favor of participating in attacks. Prior to the landslide vote, Prime Minister David Cameron told them, "It is our duty to take part."
Prime Minister Cameron argued that it was in Britain's best interest to participate, reminding them, "This international operation is about protecting our people, too, and protecting the streets of Britain." However, the final decision of the emergency vote specified UK airstrikes would be confined to Iraq. Any plans to expand attacks into Syria would require another vote in Parliament, due to the questionable legality of an intervention there.
Like President Obama, Cameron said that the UK vote will mark the start of a lengthy campaign characterized by "patience and persistence, not shock and awe." The campaign will likely take years, not months, he warned. Still, ISIS' threat "is happening in front of us," he said, "and we need to face up to it."
In accordance with the new agreement, the UK is expected to contribute RAF fighters and six Tornado fighter jets, based in Cyprus, to launch airstrikes in Iraq as early as Friday night. As the anti-ISIS coalition continues to grow and strengthen, here's a refresher course on who's involved.
Last week, France became the first coalition country to launch airstrikes alongside the U.S. Rafale jet fighters succeeded in hitting and destroying a logistics depot in Iraq. As of now, they will attack ISIS targets in Iraq only.
Germany has contributed military personnel to train Kurdish fighters in Iraq.
Saudi jets have flown side by side with U.S. Air Force planes in at least two rounds of airstrikes in Syria. Saudi Arabia has also agreed to host U.S.-led training of moderate Syrian rebels.
Denmark also joined on Friday, offering seven aircraft and 250 pilots and support staff.
The United Arab Emirates
Like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates have also joined the U.S. in at least two air missions in Syria.
Canada has sent about 70 troops to Iraq to advise the Iraqi security forces.
On Wednesday, the Netherlands offered six F-16 fighter jets for operations in Iraq. It will not be participating in Syria due to legality issues.
Italy has provided $2.5 million in weapons to the Kurdish fighters in Iraq. It has also offered to help refuel aircraft as its contribution to the airstrikes.
Australia is sending in eight F-18 fighter jets and special forces to help Iraqi soldiers.
The Belgian defense ministry said this week that it would commit six F-16 fighter jets, C-130 cargo planes, and 120 pilots and support staff.
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