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Germany

A Historical Moment

For the first time since World War Two, German soldiers are participating in a military action.

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German Transall C-160 get ready to make history.

The first three airplanes leaving the US military base in Ramstein Monday morning marked a new phase in Germany's defence policies. The German airforce units carrying 8.8 tonnes of blankets headed towards the NATO Incirlik airbase in eastern Turkey as part of the US-led campaign in Afghanistan.

Germany had not taken a military initiative in the world since 1945 with the end of World War Two.

Germany's military contribution in the anti-terrorist coalition followed a hefty political debate which almost brought down the government.

The junior coalition partner - the traditionally pacifist Green Party - initially protested the planned troop mobilization. But at its party congress in Rostock over the weekend, the Greens voted to back the Afghan deployment.

Monday morning's airlift to Incirlik was to be followed by two more. Three flights will then travel the route daily, the German military said. They will be carrying military and aid cargo as requested by the Americans, it added.

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