The comments of a retired US general that openly gay troops were to blame for the massacre at Srebrenica have angered the Dutch.

Marine Corps General John J. Sheehan, the former Supreme Allied Commander for NATO, made his remarks Thursday at a key Senate panel looking into repeal of “don't ask, don't tell,” the 1993 policy that bans open gay service.

Sheehan told senators that the integration of gay soldiers by various European countries – Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands included – was to blame for a loss of combat readiness.

“They declared a peace dividend and made a conscious effort to socialize their military – that includes the unionization of their militaries, it includes open homosexuality. That led to a force that was ill-equipped to go to war,” he said.

Sheehan went on to explain that the Dutch peacekeeping force assigned to protect the Bosnian “safe haven” of Srebrenica was “under-strength” and “poorly led” because gay troops were allowed to serve openly.

“The Serbs came into town, handcuffed the soldiers to the telephone poles, marched the Muslims off, and executed them,” he said, then added, “That was the largest massacre in Europe since World War II.”

A spokesman for the Dutch Defense Ministry told UK daily the Times that Sheehan's comments were “nonsense.”

No investigation “has ever concluded or suggested a link between homosexual military personnel and the things that happened over there [in Srebrenica],” Roger Van de Wetering said.

“Every man or woman that meets the criteria physically and mentally is welcome to serve in our armed forces regardless of [religious] belief, sexual preference or whatever,” he added.

During his first State of the Union address President Obama pledged he would end the policy that prescribes discharge for gay and lesbian service members who do not remain celibate or closeted.

Also on Thursday, Army Lt. Dan Choi and Capt. Jim Pietrangelo were arrested after they handcuffed themselves to the White House fence in protest of the policy.