Germany 'in secret talks to send aircraft to patrol Syrian safe zone'

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The German air force already has Tornados in the skies over Syria, but they only provide reconnaissance and refuelling for for air strikes by US-led coalition forces. Germany has also sent soldiers to train Kurdish peshmerga forces in northern Iraq.

Germany has come under intense pressure from Mr Trump’s demands for Nato’s European members to pay more towards the cost of their own defence. Despite a major increase this year, German military spending still lags far behind Nato’s target of 2 per cent of GDP.

The Syrian operation is seen as an opportunity for Germany to prove it is a reliable military ally.

“We should be sympathetic to the US government’s request,” Jürgen Hardt, a foreign policy spokesman for Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrat party (CDU), told Spiegel.

But military deployments abroad remain deeply controversial in Germany because of its Nazi past, and the new proposals face serious opposition from Mrs Merkel’s coalition partners.

“The SPD pushed through last year that the current Tornado deployment expires this autumn,” Rolf Mützenich, the party’s foreign policy spokesman, said. “An extension or change of the mandate is in our view out of the question.”

Under Germany law, all military deployments must be approved by parliament, and Mrs Merkel could struggle to find a majority without the support of the SPD.



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