Expatica news

Netherlands reinforces contingent in Iraq

19 August 2004

AMSTERDAM — The Netherlands is to beef up its security measures in southern Iraq after one of its soldiers was killed in an ambush last weekend.

Defence minister Henk Kemp said in a letter sent to parliament on Thursday two infantry platoons of 60 men in total were being rushed to Iraq. In addition, all patrols will include a four-wheel-drive vehicle mounted with a machine gun. In addition, more armoured vehicles will be used.

Kemp blamed the worsening situation in southern Iraq on the situation in Najaf where US and Iraqi government troops have been battling the forces loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr.

On Wednesday it was reported the Dutch commander had ordered patrols be kept to a bare minimum until the security situation became clearer.

The Netherlands has 1,276 soldiers serving with the international stabilisation force in Iraq. The troops have been stationed since last summer at several locations in al-Muthanna province in southern Iraq.

The area has been far quieter than the flashpoints around Baghdad, Fallujah and more recently Najaf.

Dutch soldiers often went out on patrol without helmets or armoured vehicles, despite the death of a Dutch sergeant in a grenade attack in May.

Some correspondents contrasted the ‘Dutch touch’, the ability to stay on good terms with the locals, to the situation in US-controlled regions where the most persistent fighting and bombing has taken place.

But the situation in the south has deteriorated markedly recently, with Dutch troops being attacked on several occasions. The most serious incident was last Saturday when a military policeman was killed and five other soldiers injured when a patrol was attacked near Ar Rumaythah military base.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news