Home Dutch News Dutch troops to start power transfer to Iraqis

Dutch troops to start power transfer to Iraqis

Published on 10/12/2003

10 December 2003

AMSTERDAM — Dutch troops will start transferring power to Iraqis in the southern part of the country in March, Defence Minister Henk Kamp said while discussing a possible six-month extension of the peacekeeping mission with MPs in the Dutch parliament.

The marines will gradually start withdrawing from cities and villages in the province of Al Muthanna. The Dutch troops are presently carrying out patrols, engaged in the provision of armed escorts to convoys or manning surveillance posts in the region.

Minister Kamp recently dispatched 70 commandos to Iraq to help prevent terror attacks against 1,100-strong Dutch force. The Cabinet recently approved a six-month extension of the peacekeeping mission.

But Kamp has still to convince MPs concerned about the mission’s security to approve its extension. In a bid to improve the security situation, he said a motorway passing though the city of As Samawah would soon be diverted outside city limits.

After a recent suicide bombing killed 19 Italian troops near where the Dutch are based and the arrest of an Al Qaeda suspect allegedly planning an attack against Dutch troops, the Defence Ministry has raised its threat analysis from low to moderate.

It is also concerned that terrorists are crossing the border from Saudi Arabia into the Dutch patrol region in Iraq, but there has been little evidence to justify the concerns.

Meanwhile, it has also been estimated that there are between several hundred to thousands of extremists and Al Qaeda volunteers in Al Muthanna. There are also between 3,000 and 4,000 former soldiers of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard in the province.

Despite this, Kamp claims that the province is the safest region in Iraq, but he said attacks against Dutch troops cannot be ruled out. He also said British forces always agree to requests for intelligence or reconnaissance flights.

Meanwhile, the marines will soon be supported by 600 Japanese troops after the Asian nation’s Cabinet made an historic decision to deploy the soldiers. The Japanese will mainly be involved in humanitarian projects such as the construction of hospitals, infrastructure and water supply stations.

[Copyright Expatica News 2003]

Subject: Dutch news