Germany has extended its military mandate in Iraq, but will end reconnaissance missions by October 31, 2019. Last month, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said she couldn't rule out a longer-term deployment.
The German government on Tuesday decided to extend its non-combat military involvement in Iraq by one year.
The parliament initially extended the military's mandate to allow it to train Kurdish Peshmerga forces and specialists from the Iraqi army.
It also decided Germany would end its reconnaissance missions and the air-to-air refueling of international aircraft that are part of US-led operations against the "Islamic State" (IS) in Iraq and Syria by October 31, 2019. It did not give a reason for this.
"In order to secure the military successes in the fight against "Islamic State" (IS) and to prevent the terrorist organization from regaining strength, the continued suppression of the terrorist organization by military means remains necessary," the cabinet text reads.
Last month during a visit to Azraq air base in Jordan — where the aircraft taking part in the reconnaissance and refueling missions are currently stationed — German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said she could not rule out a longer-term deployment of her country's forces in the Middle East, amid a broader debate about a role for Germany in possible military action Syria.
There is currently a limit of 800 military soldiers that can be stationed in Jordan and this will remain unchanged.
"In Syria and Iraq great successes have been recorded in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist organization," the cabinet text said.
IS has changed tactics after losing control of large strips of territory, and has been working underground to rebuild its networks and structures.
Germany's Nazi history makes military action a sensitive issue, and the country has mainly carried out limited engagements abroad since World War Two, preferring to instead focus on training, surveillance, medical rescue and peacekeeping. It did, however, participate in the 1999 NATO air offensive on what was then Yugoslavia, but only entered the Afghan conflict in a peacekeeping capacity after the fall of the Taliban.
Some of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) in Chancellor Angela Merkel's grand coalition have expressed skepticism regarding the reconnaissance flights.
law/msh (dpa, Reuters)