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Belgium to launch air strikes against Isis as it joins Syria coalition

Adam Withnall
Friday 13 May 2016 11:23 BST
File: Belgian F-16s
File: Belgian F-16s (Getty Images)

Belgium will rejoin the international coalition against Isis and begin launching air strikes in Syria for the first time, its government has announced.

A spokesperson for the prime minister, Charles Michel, confirmed Belgian media reports suggesting six of the country's F-16 fighter jets would be rejoining the US-led military effort.

Belgium joined in coalition air strikes against Isis in Iraq in the summer of 2014, but suspended its involvement in July 2015 citing the unsustainable financial costs involved.

It has not previously been involved in fighting Isis in Syria, but there were reports in early March that the government had been formally requested to help by the US.

In the wake of the Brussels terror attacks on 22 March, Isis said Belgium was targeted as "a country participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State" - despite the fact it had not dropped a bomb there in at least nine months.

Speaking to the AFP News Agency, Mr Michel's spokesman said the strikes would begin on 1 July. "The objective will be to destroy these groups' refuges."

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