US Asks Germany to Send Combat-Ready Ground Troops against IS in Syria
Germany’s potential new Defense Minister has urged Merkel’s Cabinet not to dismiss immediately the American request.
The US Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey has asked Germany to send some group troops to Syria to “partially replace” American forces against the Islamic State.
According to Jeffrey, the supposed German military detachments in Syria would consist of send military trainers, logistics specialists and technicians to help the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the continuing fight against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.
However, the potential German troops in Syria would have to be prepared to defend themselves, the US envoy cautioned, as cited by DW.
“We want ground troops from Germany to partially replace our soldiers,” Jeffrey said in an interview with Germany’s DPA news agency and the weekly Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
The US diplomat made it clear he was expected an answer from the German government this month.
“We are looking for volunteers who want to take part here and among other coalition partners,” Jeffrey told the German media.
He also revealed he had not asked the German government for a specific number of soldiers.
The US envoy was in Berlin on Friday to try to convince Germany’s authorities to become involved with further military and financial support in the fight against the Islamic State.
“It is better to force IS back with local Syrian forces. But a certain international presence is needed to secure air support, for logistics, training, and technical help,” Jeffrey said.
The American diplomat did note that combat could not be ruled out despite the supposed technical capacity of any potential German ground force detachments in Syria.
Germany’s military, the Bundeswehr, is currently involved in the fight against the IS of an international coalition of some 80 countries by sending in reconnaissance planes over Syria from Jordan, a refueling aircraft, and military trainers based in Iraq.
When visiting Iraq in June, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany would be ready to extend the mission beyond October, when it is due to expire.
“[The mission] is vital to prevent IS setting up new structures underground,” Maas said back then. The ultimate decision would be made by the German Parliament.
Reacting to the American request to send German ground troops in Syria, Johann Wadephul, an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, urged the German government to consider it.
Wadephul, deputy leader of the parliamentary caucus of Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), told DPA on Sunday that the request shouldn’t be “rejected in a knee-jerk reaction.”
“In this region, it’s about our security and not American security,” said Wadephul.
Wadephul could be the next German Defense Minister as the present one, Ursula von der Leyen, has been nominated by the EU state leaders to become the new President of the European Commission.
(Banner image: US State Department on Twitter)