German defense minister pushes to keep German troops in Iraq | News | DW | 15.01.2020
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German defense minister pushes to keep German troops in Iraq

Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has said German troops are ready to stay in Iraq — should the Iraqi government wish it. The German parliament has also signaled its support for troops to stay put.

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer visited German troops in Iraq on Wednesday, as part of a trip to hold talks with high-ranking military officials.

The visit comes as Germany is trying to ensure that Bundeswehr soldiers can remain in Iraq.

German troops are present in the country as part of a US-led coalition to fight the "Islamic State" (IS), but the Iraqi parliament voted earlier in January to oust all US troops from the country.

"We are ready to work together with our allies to further support the people of Iraq in the fight against terror and IS, if the Iraqi government still wants that," Kramp-Karrenbauer tweeted.

Around 90 German soldiers remain in Erbil in northern Iraq, where they train local Kurdish soldiers. The semiautonomous Kurdish government has said it wants German forces to remain.

Read more: The German Bundeswehr's missions in the Middle East

Many German soldiers were withdrawn earlier this month following the US killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad. In response, Iran fired missiles at two US-led military bases in Iraq, including Erbil. No coalition soldiers were killed.

Watch video 00:24

Kramp-Karrenbauer: 'Almost 30 instructors have been flown out to Jordan'

German parliament backs anti-IS mission

The German parliament, or Bundestag, signaled that it backed the Bundeswehr's continued presence in Iraq on Wednesday, when a majority of representatives voted against a bill seeking to remove German forces from Iraq.

The bill was drafted by the far-right opposition party, Alternative for Germany.

Read more: How the Soleimani assassination was reported in Germany

Kramp-Karrenbauer, tipped as a possible successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, visited German troops in Jordan before traveling to Iraq. She traveled on to Baghdad from Erbil to hold talks with top military officials.

Watch video 00:47

'No Americans harmed' in Iranian missile attack: Trump

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ed/stb (Reuters, dpa)