Wednesday 23 October 2019

US asks for Germany to send troops to Syria to ease burden

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski
German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski

Mariajose Vera

A US envoy has asked Germany to consider sending ground troops to Syria, putting Chancellor Angela Merkel's government on the spot.

While German soldiers wouldn't necessarily need to engage in combat, they could ease the burden on US forces by helping with air support, logistics, training and technical assistance, James Jeffrey, the US special representative for engagement in Syria, was quoted as saying.

Germany, a prime target of President Donald Trump's calls for US allies to increase defence spending, has pledged Tornado surveillance planes to the US-led coalition to defeat Isil fighters in Syria.

A change in the mandate would require approval by the German parliament, where Ms Merkel would be likely to face opposition from parts of her coalition.

Germany can't send soldiers to Syria for "legal reasons", said Fritz Felgentreu, a senior Social Democratic lawmaker.

The Social Democrats are Ms Merkel's junior coalition partner.

Johann Wadephul, deputy caucus chief of Ms Merkel's Christian Democratic-led bloc, said Germany shouldn't reject the US request out of hand.

Mr Trump said in December that he would withdraw military forces from Syria, declaring Isil defeated.

The announcement led to concerns that the US was leaving Kurdish allies vulnerable to attacks from Turkey.

Mr Trump later agreed to keep as many as 400 US troops in the country after American military officials and members of Congress said a withdrawal was premature.

Mr Jeffrey said he discussed the US request with German government officials and they are considering what they can do about it.

© The Washington Post

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