Chancellor Angela Merkel with the support of the German parliament plans to send military support to the US-led coalition fighting ISIS.
The German cabinet plans to send up to 1,200 soldiers in the region to support the coalition fighting against the Islamic State [ISIS/ISIL/Daesh] in Syria.
The mandate, which requires parliamentary approval, was endorsed by ministers on Tuesday. Though, it is not yet clear when lawmakers will consider the proposals, but Merkel’s government coalition has a large majority and approval looks assured. The move was supported by 445 German lawmakers, while 146 voted against the anti-Daesh campaign, seven lawmakers abstained.
It comes after French request following last month’s Paris attacks. Ministers believe Germany is now an IS target, too. On Thursday, British warplanes carried out their first air strikes on IS targets in Syria.
The mandate is for one year at a cost of €134m (£94m) and can be extended next year.
Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, acknowledged that the fight could be protracted. “We are doing what is militarily necessary, what we can do best, and what we can back politically,” Steinmeier told the daily Bild. “We need patience against an enemy like IS.”
The date for the parliamentary vote has not been set.
A German frigate could help protect the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the eastern Mediterranean, from which fighter jets are carrying out bombing runs, and tanker aircraft could refuel them mid-air to extend their range, the defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, said last week.
“I would not have imagined two years ago what sort of an abyss we would be staring into,” Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said earlier this week.
This will be Germany’s biggest current military operation abroad. Until now, Germany’s biggest foreign mission has been in Afghanistan, but that has gradually wound down to a force of just less than 1,000.
According to the German army the forces will be deployed ‘’in and over Syria where IS is operating, on the territory of states whose governments have given approval [to Germany], in the eastern Mediterranean, Gulf, Red Sea and adjoining seas”.
Germany will boost to 150 its 100-strong contingent of troops in northern Iraq. The country helps training Kurdish Peshmerga forces who are fighting IS. It is also a supplier for ammunition for them.
Germany’s armed services association has cautioned against entering a conflict without clearly defined goals. “I’m working on the basis that this fight, if it is taken seriously, will go on for well over 10 years,” the association’s chairman Andre Wuestner told German TV this week.
Green Party chairwoman Simone Peter has expressed concern about the legal basis for the mission without a specific UN resolution authorizing it.
Following World War II Germany adopted a constitution which forbids participating in wars on foreign soil, therefore Berlin cannot carry out airstrikes. That is why the German involvement is expected to be limited to support and reconnaissance.
Being a member of the US-led coalition against Daesh, Berlin has so far provided only logistical and technical assistance to the international alliance, refraining from participation in the coalition’s airstrikes.