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Bundeswehr flies its first Syrian missions

Matt ZuvelaDecember 16, 2015

For the first time, planes from the German military have taken part in airstrikes against "Islamic State" in Syria. A German tanker plane refueled fighter jets in midair that carried out the missions.

Deutschland Syrien-Einsatz Tornado Aufklärungsflugzeuge mit Tankflugzeug A310 MRTT
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Luftwaffe/U. Metternich

A German Bundeswehr Airbus A310 twice provided in-flight refueling for fighter jets conducing airstrikes against the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) in Syria late Tuesday and early Wednesday, according to a statement made by a Bundeswehr spokesperson to the German news agency dpa. It is the first time German has directly been a part of the aerial offensive against IS.

The fighter jets were part of an international coalition conducting airstrikes against IS. No information was given about what country the jets were from, but French, American, British and Saudi jets have conducted such missions.

Earlier this month, Germany agreed to take an active role in the military engagement against IS in Syria in response to the Paris terror attacks in November. The 1,200 troops Germany has pledged to the mission is the country's largest military commitment.

In addition to the refueling planes, Germany has pledged to send a frigate to join French patrols of the Mediterranean and Tornado reconnaissance jets that will begin missions in January.

By participating in the airstrikes on Wednesday, Germany has undertaken its third military offensive in the 60-year history of its armed forces after World War II. Germany also took an active role in military missions during the Kosovo conflict on 1999 and ended its military mission in Afghanistan last year.