Jan. 21 (UPI) — The mandate of Denmark’s military forces in Iraq was extended Friday, allowing troops to venture into Syria to combat terrorists.
The action was not unexpected. In 2015, Danish Defense Minister Peter Christiansen pledged to accelerate efforts of Denmark’s special forces, working within NATO, against the Islamic State in the Middle East. The decision can also be seen as a response to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has asked all NATO countries to become more engaged in the fight against IS. Denmark joined the international coalition in Iraq in 2014.
Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelson said Friday that Denmark’s involvement in the Middle East is “an important foreign affairs and security priority for the government. The government has thus decided, on the basis of specific requests from the coalition, to expand the missions of the special operations troops in Iraq and Syria.”
A majority of Denmark’s parliament supports the plan.
The Danish military has thus far restricted itself to construction projects and to training Iraqi forces. In December, Danish troops were given a mandate to return fire if fired upon. The new directives also permit the Danish warship Peter Willemoes to sail alongside U.S. aircraft carriers.