Sep 26, 2014 9:10 AM

Denmark joins fight against Islamic State group

The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) Denmark became the latest country to join the U.S.-led coalition that is launching airstrikes on Islamic State group militants in Iraq. Lawmakers in Britain and Belgium were also debating Friday whether to commit warplanes to the struggle too.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said her government would send four operational planes and three reserve jets along with 250 pilots and support staff in the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq. The deployment will last for 12 months. Lawmakers in Denmark must also approve, but that is considered a formality.

"No one should be ducking in this case," she said. "Everyone should contribute."

Meanwhile, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said a failure to act against a group that's committed a series of beheadings and crucifixions was not an option.

"This is about psychopathic terrorists that are trying to kill us and we do have to realize that, whether we like it or not, they have already declared war on us," he said. "There isn't a 'walk on by' option. There isn't an option of just hoping this will go away."

Cameron told the House of Commons that the campaign would be marked by "patience and persistence, not shock and awe" a direct reference to the phrase associated with the invasion of Iraq under Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The unpopular intervention in Iraq has cast a shadow over how to deal with the Islamic State group, with critics fearing another protracted and bloody conflict that could spread around the region. The Islamic State group controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

The motion before lawmakers in London did not address any action in Syria, though many sought to push the government to admit that taking on militants there would be the likely next step. Cameron has justified action in Iraq as lawful because the Iraqi leadership has asked for help but his detractors say action in Syria would be illegal because President Bashar Assad has not invited outsiders to assist.

Lawmakers in Britain are expected to approve the motion, which is supported by all three main parties. Britain is expected to deploy Tornado fighters, a handful of which are in Cyprus striking distance of northern Iraq. They would join the seven F-16 fighter jets pledged by Denmark.


Olsen contributed from Copenhagen, Denmark.


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