Mixed signals from Berlin on US request for troops in Syria



BERLIN, Michael Fischer (dpa)- Mixed signals have trickled out of Berlin about how Germany will respond to a US request for Germany to support the fight against Islamic State with ground troops in Syria.
"We are in constructive talks with our partners about how the work of the coalition can be continued in the future and how Germany can be involved," the Foreign Office said.



"The stabilization of the areas freed from [Islamic State] is in the foreground."
The United States has asked Germany to support the fight against remnants of the Islamic State by sending ground troops to support the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in north-eastern Syria.
US forces have been supporting the SDF alliance, but Washington is planning to pull most of its soldiers out of Syria.
A leading politician from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has called for Germany to carefully look into the US request.
It shouldn't be "rejected in a knee-jerk reaction," said Johann Wadephul, deputy leader of the joint parliamentary caucus of the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).
Wadephul - who is considered a possible successor to German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, should she go to Brussels to become the new European Commission president - argued in favour of continuing Germany's deployment of reconnaissance planes there.
"In this region, it's about our security and not American [security]," he told dpa on Sunday.
Merkel's coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), took a clearer position on the US request.
"There will not be German ground troops in Syria with us," said Thorsten Schaefer-Guembel, one the provisional leaders of the centre-left party.
"I also cannot see that our coalition partner would want that," he said via Twitter.
In March, SDF forces captured the last bastion of Islamic State in Syria, though the radical Islamists have remained active underground.
The US has since been working to secure more support from the 80 allies in the anti-Islamic State coalition, including Germany, as US forces begin to draw down.
Germany has been supporting the anti-Islamic State coalition from outside the country, supplying Tornado reconnaissance planes and a refuelling plane out of Jordan, as well as training forces in Iraq.
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Sunday, July 7th 2019
Michael Fischer (dpa)
           


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