German parliament approves military action in Syria
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German parliament approves military action in Syria

Lawmakers vote 445 for, 146 against decision to deploy up to 1,200 troops in support roles for fight against Islamic State

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) talking to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble during a plenary session of the Bundestag in Berlin before deputies vote on a stepped-up German role in the fight against the Islamic State, December 4, 2015. (AFP/Tobias Schwarz)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) talking to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble during a plenary session of the Bundestag in Berlin before deputies vote on a stepped-up German role in the fight against the Islamic State, December 4, 2015. (AFP/Tobias Schwarz)

Lawmakers on Friday approved plans for Germany to take on a direct role in the battle against the Islamic State group in Syria, answering France’s appeal for help.

Parliament voted for the mandate for the deployment of Tornado reconnaissance jets, a frigate and up to 1,200 troops by an overwhelming majority of 445 votes in favor and 146 against. Seven lawmakers abstained.

Earlier this week, the German chief of staff said Berlin had plans to deploy 1,200 soldiers to help in the fight against the Islamic State.

The troops would not take part in combat operations and would only be involved in reconnaissance and support roles, according to a report in The Telegraph.

“From a military point of view, some 1,200 soldiers are expected to be needed to operate the planes and ships,” Bundeswehr Chief of Staff Volker Wieker told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

If approved, the soldiers could be dispatched before the end of the year, and would be Germany’s largest current foreign military deployment. Germany would field four to six Tornado reconnaissance aircraft, either in Turkey or Amman, for sorties over Syria. A frigate would accompany French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, currently carrying out airstrikes against IS from the Mediterranean.

Last week Germany pledged to send Tornado reconnaissance jets, a naval frigate, and 650 soldiers to help relieve French forces in Mali after French President Francois Hollande urged Berlin to do more in the fight against Islamic State jihadists.

Hollande met Chancellor Angela Merkel during a week of intense efforts by France to build a coalition to crush IS in its fiefdom in Iraq and Syria.

Hollande said he hoped Germany “can do even more in the fight against Daesh in Syria and Iraq,” using another term for IS, which claimed responsibility for the carnage in the French capital.

Merkel said in response she would act “swiftly” to see how Germany could take up “additional responsibilities” to assist in the fight against terror.

“We will be stronger than the terror,” she said.

 

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