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German government defends decision to join fight against 'IS'

Germany's foreign minister and defense minister defended the decision to join the military campaign against "IS" in Syria. Germany said it would provide protection, reconnaissance and logistics in the military campaign.

Germany's Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) told reporters at a shared press conference that in addition to the military campaign against the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) in Syria, attempts at bringing about a political solution to the conflict were still required in the future.

Steinmeier and von der Leyen said that the campaign in Syria was fully supported by international law. In the absence of a concrete UN mandate to fight IS, von der Leyen and Steinmeier cited a recent UN resolution passed after the Paris attacks with the intention of repelling IS in Syria using "all means necessary," which they said provided sufficient grounds for Germany to get involved in non-violent aspects of the mission.

Watch video 01:55

Germany to join fight against 'IS' in Syria

Germany plans to deploy several Tornado reconnaissance jets, a refueling aircraft and a frigate to help protect the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. Germany had already committed to

sending up to 650 more soldiers to Mali

to help the French in their fight against Islamic militants there.

Steinmeier stresses importance of solidarity with France

Steinmeier said that Germany's willingness to help France and the US-led coalition in their beefed-up efforts against IS was a matter of defending Germany's reputation in the world while also

showing solidarity

.

"Striking a balance between what we can do and what we can accept political accountability for, and making that balance available is what gives us our credibility," he said. Germany's non-aggressive post-war constitution limits the country's military options abroad, especially with regard to lethal operations like airstrikes.

The move follows the November 13 attacks by Islamic militants in Paris, killing 130 people and leading French President Francois Hollande to call for more international involvement in the fight against Islamic State, including a direct appeal to Berlin to do more.

"Not only did we express our condolences for the victims, but we also showed our solidarity," Steinmeier said.

Von der Leyen expects lengthy involvement

Following her "difficult but necessary" announcement to send German forces to aid the coalition against IS, Defense Minister von der Leyen said that the Islamic State's "inhuman rage" could also affect Germany if it failed to act in Syria now.

"If we want to fight terrorism and the reasons people are fleeing, then we have to do so locally," the defense minister said. Von der Leyen said that she expected a prolonged battle, but expressed confidence that it should be possible to defeat IS militarily.

ss/msh (Reuters, dpa)

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