Berlin in talks on possible military deployment in Syria

SPD leader rejects any German role in the war

The leader of Germany’s Social Democrats Andrea Nahles

Germany is in talks with its allies about a possible military deployment in Syria if the Syrian government used chemical weapons in Idlib but a German deployment is very hypothetical, a government spokesman said on Monday. “We are in talks with our American and European partners about this situation. There has not been a situation where a decision has had to be made,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular press conference.

Bild newspaper reported earlier that Germany’s conservative-led defense ministry was examining possible options for joining US, British and French forces in any future military action if the Syrian government again used chemical weapons. Seibert said the principle of German parliamentary involvement in any such decision would be stuck to in any case.

The leader of Germany’s Social Democrats said on Monday her party would not approve any participation of Germany in the war in Syria, opening a potential new line of conflict in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s loveless coalition government. Nahles

“The SPD will not agree - either in parliament or in the government - to the participation of Germany in the war in Syria,” Andrea Nahles said. “We support the foreign minister in his efforts to avert a humanitarian crisis through discussions with Turkey and Russia.”

Bild said German and US officials had discussed various options, including the possibility that German fighter jets could help with battle damage assessments, or drop bombs for the first time since the war in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The newspaper reported on that a senior German defense official had met the newly arrived US defense attache last month to discuss possible German support for a military alliance against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

German participation in any military action remains a sensitive and deeply unpopular topic given the country’s Nazi past. Participation in any military strikes in Syria would also put Germany on a direct collision course with Assad’s main backer, Russia, for the first time. Bild said a decision on whether to participate in such strikes would be made by Merkel, who had ruled out joining April 2018 air strikes against Syria by US, French and British forces after a previous use of chemical weapons. It said participation in military action would be notified to parliament after the fact, if speedy action were required.

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