Germany to Join Western Airstrikes on Syria if Assad Uses Chemical Weapons Again, Report Says
A previously reluctant Germany is considering joining the France, the US, and the UK in airstrikes against the regime of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad if it ends up using chemical weapons again, according to a report.
The German Defense Ministry is even already in talks with the US Department of Defense to hammer out details for the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, to join possible airstrikes by US, British and French forces on Syrian targets, the Bild newspaper reports, as cited by DW.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservative CDU is said to support the idea unlike some of the other mainstream political parties in the country.
Germany’s Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen is reported to have responded to a US request, which was followed by a meeting of high-ranking ministry and military officials from both countries.
Thus, according to the report, German Tornado jets could take part in combat missions alongside their US, UK and French counterparts, if the Assad regime carries out another chemical attack.
The last such instance was in April 2018, when the Syrian regime killed more than 70 people in a chemical weapons attack on Douma, according to Western governments.
The act was punished by the US, the UK, and France whose forces bombed three government sites of the regime.
German forces may also participate in reconnaissance flights after a possible chemical attack, also known as “battle damage assessment”, the report says. The German military is already active in Syria but does not engage in combat missions.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has previously said Germany would not take part in “military missions” in Syria. Germany abstained from involvement in previous Western punitive raids against the Assad regime as well as the US, UK, and French campaign against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.
The last time the German air force took part in a Western intervention with combat operations was during the NATO air strikes during the 1999 Kosovo War.
The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Norbert Röttgen (CDU), said that Germany should consider joining its Western allies in future military missions “under specific conditions.”
“[Germany should not rule out] preventing a new, horrific gas attack with massive effect on the civilian population,” he added, arguing that retaliation for the use of chemical weapons could deter future use.
Opposition politicians from the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) also supported keeping options open for conditional military action in Syria, while the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which is part of the ruling coalition, rejected the idea.
“The SPD will not approve Germany joining the war in Syria, neither in parliament nor in the government,” SPD leader Andrea Nahles told DPA.
Germany’s foreign and defense ministries would not comment on the report.
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