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Bundeswehr preparing Syria mission

November 29, 2015

The German government will seek a mandate for a military deployment in Syria this year, according to the army's chief of staff. He told a newspaper that troops would mainly be involved in reconnaissance operations.

Deutschland Irak Bundeswehr bildet Peschmerga aus
Image: Getty Images/J. Moore

The planned German military participation in international efforts to combat the jihadist group "Islamic State" ("IS") in Syria will involve the largest current overseas deployment of German troops, according to Bundeswehr Inspector General Volker Wieker.

"From a military point of view, some 1,200 soldiers will be needed to operate the planes and ships," Wieker told the "Bild am Sonntag" newspaper.

Wieker, who is the highest-ranking officer in the Bundeswehr, said the deployment would be able to begin very quickly once the German parliament had approved a mandate for the operation, adding that the government would seek such a mandate before the end of the year.

No German bombing

The inspector general said that he did not believe that German participation in current US-led air strikes against "IS" was essential at the present time.

"What makes sense militarily is what is necessary," he said. "In this case, that is our ability to carry out reconnaissance."

He added that "our Tornados could contribute greatly" to aiding the US-led coalition in Syria to make best use of the powers and means at its disposal.

He said the German air force would provide four to six Tornado jets that could be stationed at two locations, adding that talks were underway with Jordan and Turkey about using the airbases in Incirlik and Amman.

The German government announced on Thursday that it would make available Tornado reconnaissance planes and a frigate for the fight against "IS." This came after France requested aid in combating the group following deadly jihadist attacks in Paris on November 13 that claimed 130 lives.

Opposition from the Left

Some within the German political community have opposed the decision to intervene in Syria. In a recent episode of DW's "Conflict Zone," Dietmar Bartsch, chairman of the Left party, expressed skepticism that there was a military solution to the conflict.

"We have to impede IS, but that means, for example, through financial means, through the flow of weapons. We must put an end to the smuggling of oil in this area," he said. "We can't defeat IS with bombs."

He noted that airstrikes have killed civilians in Syria, which in turn inspires more people to join IS.

"I don't understand why the federal government, why other countries, have learned nothing from Afghanistan."

French President Francois Hollande has called for a broad international coalition to fight the extremists.

tj/jlw (Reuters, AFP)