Lawmakers today approved plans for Germany to take on a direct role in the battle against the Islamic State group in Syria, answering France’s appeal for help after the deadly Paris attacks.
Parliament agreed to the mandate for the deployment of Tornado reconnaissance jets, a frigate and up to 1,200 troops by an overwhelming majority of 445 votes in favour and 146 against.
The green light for the mission that could become Germany’s biggest deployment abroad comes three weeks after jihadists killed 130 people in a series of attacks in Paris.
The atrocities prompted France to invoke a clause requiring EU states to provide military assistance to wipe out the IS group in Iraq and Syria.
Britain joined the US-led bombing campaign over Syria yesterday, striking an IS-held oil field as the momentum to take action against the jihadist group increases.
After repeatedly ruling out the use of “boots on the ground”, US President Barack Obama also agreed to send as many as 100 special forces to Iraq, with a mandate to carry out raids inside Syria.
A broad coalition of 60 countries has been battling IS since August 2014, although involvement in Syria has been more limited with some Western nations wary of how military action could actually end up serving President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which they view as no longer legitimate.
But reticence seemed to have melted away following the Paris attacks, and in the Netherlands, which has been bombarding the IS in Iraq, the government too is coming under pressure to widen the aerial campaign to Syria.
Even in Germany, where there has traditionally been reluctance to engage in military missions abroad, the government’s decision to take direct action in Syria has been largely met with support.
An opinion poll in Die Welt newspaper today showed broad public backing of 58 per cent of people surveyed in favour of the military deployment while 37 per cent were against.
The support came despite a large majority of 63 per cent believing that the risk of a terror attack on German soil will rise as a result of Bundeswehr involvement in Syria.