November 1, 2013. David Pugliese Defence Watch
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – The Dutch government is sending 368 troops to join a U.N. peacekeeping force in the conflict-torn West African nation of Mali, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced Friday.
In a letter sent to Parliament, Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said the Dutch contingent will include 220 troops, including 90 special forces commandos, who will take part in intelligence gathering and operate four Apache helicopters. Ten police officers and a small group of civilian support staff also will join the mission.
Sending soldiers to U.N. peacekeeping missions is an emotionally charged decision for the Dutch, who suffered a national trauma when the country’s soldiers were unable to prevent Bosnian Serb forces from storming the Srebrenica enclave in Bosnia in July 1995, and killing some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the worst massacre on European soil since World War II.
Rutte said the decision to deploy Dutch troops was a tough one, but that “all lessons from previous missions have been learned.”