Berlin rejects US call for German ground troops in Syria

BERLIN, Michael Fischer (dpa)- Berlin has rejected a US request for German ground forces to boost the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Monday that Germany would continue its previous military contributions to the coalition fighting Islamic State, namely providing Tornado reconnaissance flights, a tanker and instructors for troops in Iraq.

"When I say that the federal government plans to continue its previous measures within the framework of the anti-Islamic State coalition, it is well known that there are no [German] ground troops," he said.
Germany's Social Democrats (SPD), the junior partner in the coalition with Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), had already said on Sunday that they would not support the request.
"There will be no German ground troops in Syria with us. I also don't see our coalition partner wanting this," Thorsten Schaefer-Guembel of the SPD wrote on Twitter.
All the opposition parties in the German Bundestag - the Greens, the pro-business FDP, the far-right AfD and hard-left Die Linke - had also rejected Washington's request.
The CDU had been the only party to call for careful assessment before passing judgement.
However, Ralph Brinkhaus, parliamentary leader of Merkel's conservative bloc, said on Monday ahead of a party meeting that he was "very, very critical. And anyway: We don't have a majority for this in the Bundestag."
The US special representative for Syria and the anti-Islamic State coalition, James Jeffrey, had asked the German government on Friday during a visit to Berlin for additional support in the fight against the terrorists.
Jeffrey said Washington wanted ground troops from Germany to partially replace US soldiers, in comments to dpa and the Sunday edition of Die Welt newspaper.
He particularly wanted support for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the north-east of the country involving trainers, logisticians and technical assistants from the Bundeswehr.
He said he expected a response from the German government in July.

Tuesday, July 9th 2019
Michael Fischer (dpa)

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