Belgium received US request for ground troops for Syria
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    Belgium received US request for ground troops for Syria

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    Belgium received a letter on 23 May from U.S. Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan asking for a contribution to the fight against ISIS in Syria at a time when Washington wants to withdraw its troops from north-eastern Syria, Foreign Minister Didier Reynders told the Chamber on Thursday.

    Washington requested ground troops, planes for reconnaissance missions and bombardments, and medical staff, said Reynders, who is also Minister of Defence.

    He recalled that the parametres set by the government and parliament, include the refusal to commit ground troops. If that needed to change, there would have to be a debate in parliament, he said.

    The minister said he made no commitment to Washington, explaining in his response to the U.S. that the request would have to be analysed within the Defence sector and any possible contribution would have to be approved by the politicians.

    As part of the effort to combat ISIS, Belgian has been carrying out air operations by sending F-16 fighter bombers over Syria and Iraq and has helped train Iraqi troops. Within this framework, Belgian soldiers have taken part in reconnaissance missions.

    On 22 August 2017, Associated Press published photos of Belgian special forces close to the frontline in the Tal Afar Offensive against ISIS in northern Iraq.

    Oscar Schneider

    The Brussels Times