October 22, 2016

Germany votes to back military action against Isis in Syria

A German Eurofighter Typhoon makes a fly-by during the visit of of German air force chief Lieutenant general Karl Muellner at the Amari Air Base in Harjumaa, Estonia on September 9, 2015. AFP/Getty Images

Germany will deploy up to 1,200 troops to the Middle East as part of a multi-million euro mission to support the fight against Isis after the plans were approved by MPs.

The Bundestag voted on the move this morning, supporting Angela Merkel’s proposal to send six Tornado reconnaissance jets and refuelling aircraft, a frigate to protect a French aircraft carrier and the supporting soldiers .

The German Chancellor has stated that armed forces will not fight or launch bombing missions, but work to support countries including Britain, France, the US and Russia.

Government proposals were supported by an overwhelming majority of 445 votes to 146 after the UK voted to extend its bombing campaign against Isis following the Paris attacks.

Two German Tornados and a tanker are expected to be sent to Turkey’s Incirlik air base next week but will not be fully operational until next month.

A letter sent from the German foreign and defence ministries earlier this week said the deployment was aimed at preventing “terrorist acts” in the wake of the Paris attacks, and supporting France and other partners in their fight against Isis.

The defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen sought to reassure voters nervous of foreign intervention, saying that Germany had not been drawn into war against its will.

“The top line is: there will be no cooperation with Assad and no cooperation with troops under his command,” she said, though she did not rule out including supporters of the current Syrian President in a long-term solution for the country.

“We must avoid the collapse of the state of Syria,” she said, to avoid a repeat of mistakes made in Iraq, when groups who had been loyal to Saddam Hussein were prevented from being part of the political system after his defeat.

The German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, told Bild that 1,200 was the upper limit for troops, deployed to allow the operation of aircraft and ships, and that they would not all be sent out at the same time.

“Bombs and rockets alone will not conquer terror, that will only happen though politics,” the Social Democrat told the newspaper, stressing the need for a long-term diplomatic solution.

The mission would reportedly cost around €134 million over the coming year.

Politicians from the Left party had vowed to launch a legal challenge against the military intervention in the event of support by the Bundestag.

Some members of the opposition Greens also expressed reservations, with member Hans-Christian Ströbele calling it “politically and militarily wrong”.

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