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Steinmeier: 'No German boots on the ground in Syria'

Germany's foreign minister has rejected the idea that troops will be deployed on the ground in Syria. His assertion came during an interview in which he reiterated Berlin's commitment to the war-torn country.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier defended the German intervention in Syria on Friday, telling the news publisher Funke Mediengruppe that it was necessary for ensuring Germany's security.

"The threat of [terrorist organization] IS does not end at Germany's borders. Therefore, the answer is not to close all our doors, pull down the shutters, turn the lights off and hope that it only hits the neighbors whose lights are still on," he said.

Germany is supporting air strikes against IS, also known as the "Islamic State," which maintains a strong foothold in the war-torn country. Berlin's decision to intervene militarily followed the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, for which IS claimed responsibility.

No boots on the ground

However, Steinmeier rejected the possibility of boots on the ground.

"I completely agree with Sigmar Gabriel that no German troops will fight against IS in Syrian territory," Steinmeier said, referring to the chairman of his political party, the Social Democratic Party, which is part of a grand coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats. Gabriel had earlier questioned the judgment of deploying foot soldiers to wage war against the terrorist group.

Currently, Germany deploys Tornado aircraft in Syria and helps with reconnaissance tasks. The country itself is not engaging in air strikes, however.

blc/jil (Reuters, dpa)

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