Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 15 November 2019

France and Britain agree to send more troops to Syria

Germany said on Monday it had no plans to send in ground troops

The US has been placing pressure on European countries to send more troops to Syria. AFP
The US has been placing pressure on European countries to send more troops to Syria. AFP

France and Britain have agreed to send more forces to Syria to cove for the US withdrawal, but Germany has refused.

The two European nations will agree to a troop increase of between 10 and 15 per cent, an official told Foreign Policy, but times and exact numbers were not available.

The French and British governments would not comment on the report but the US envoy to Syria, James Jeffrey, has said that coalition partners would provide more troops.

“Our expectation is the slack will be taken up by coalition forces and we are getting a very encouraging response from them,” Mr Jeffrey told Defence One.

But Germany said on Monday that it had no plans to send ground troops to Syria, refusing the US request to increase its military involvement in the fight against ISIS.

“When I say that the government intends to continue with its ongoing measures in the framework of the anti-ISIS coalition, then that means no ground troops,” said German government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

Mr Jeffrey said on Sunday that Washington wanted Berlin to send troops to northern Syria and he expected an answer this month.

The mandate for Germany’s participation in Syria runs out on October 31, meaning that Parliament would have to decide what to do beyond that date.

Mr Seibert said Germany had “for years been making a significant and internationally acknowledged contribution” to fighting ISIS.

Berlin is in talks with the US on “how the engagement should develop further”, he said.

Other European nations may follow the UK and France in committing more troops to stop an ISIS resurgence.

Italy is considering the idea, as are some of the Balkan states.

Washington has two goals in north-eastern Syria: to support the Kurdish forces who expelled ISIS from northern Syria and were under increasing threat from Turkey; and to prevent an ISIS resurgence.

Germany has so far sent surveillance aircraft and other non-combat support in Syria.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s junior coalition partner the SPD, along with the Greens, liberal Free Democrats and Left party, has urged her to turn down the US request for troops.

Updated: July 9, 2019 11:50 PM

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