The Belgian government has established a legal framework authorising Belgian F-16s engaged in operations against ISIS to strike targets in Syria. The aircraft were previously restricted to hitting targets in Iraq. The announcement — coming two months after the deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels — follows U.S. requests for allied support which have already produced positive responses from other European countries (Denmark, the Netherlands, France and the UK).
There will be a full parliamentary debate prior to the deployment of the six F-16s to Jordan in June. The Belgian force — which alternates deployments with the Dutch Air Force — will take over from the Dutch contingent on 1st July. Belgian F-16s had previously been involved in anti-ISIS operations in October 2014 and June 2015, but only in Iraq.
The mission of Belgian personnel currently deployed to Iraq (around 30 people) is also expected to be modified, with troops moving closer to the front line. These troops have until now been involved with their coalition partners in training Iraqi security forces in the zone around Baghdad airport — a mission that is now almost complete.