Germany on US request to send troops to Syria: Nein, danke

Germany on US request to send troops to Syria: Nein, danke

Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper chairs a NATO meeting on defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, at NATO headquarters, Brussels, Belgium, June 27, 2019. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

WASHINGTON — Germany has said no to a request by Washington to send ground troops to Syria to backfill the ranks being emptied by the departure of U.S. forces from that nation.

The request was made to Berlin this weekend by James Jeffrey, the U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement and the Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat (ISIS). He is in Germany this week for talks on Syria.

Jeffrey said Sunday that he hoped to hear back from Germany within the month, according to news reports. He received the answer on Monday.

President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of most of the 3,000 U.S. forces in Syria, leaving behind only a small contingent to work with Kurdish allies to build anti-ISIS militia. The Pentagon has refused to say how much of the drawdown of U.S. troops has occurred.

Pentagon officials indicatd the State Department was the lead department working on securitng troops committments for Syria. “We continue to engage members of the Global Coalition to identify areas where they might best contribute to the enduring defeat of ISIS and remain confident that Coalition nations will provide the necessary support in Syria,” Cmdr. Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesperson, told TMN.

“We want ground troops from Germany to partially replace our soldiers,” Jeffrey said Sunday, according to news reports. “We are looking for volunteers who want to take part here and among other coalition partners.”

He said that, “It is better to force (ISIS) back with local Syrian forces, but a certain international presence is needed to secure air support, for logistics, training, and technical help.”

About 80 nations are counted in the anti-ISIS coalition, with contributions ranging from troops and field support to financial and technical assistance. Other than France and the United Kingdom, nations with ground forces in Syria are not widely known.

Germany provides reconnaissance jets, refueling aircraft and military instructors, all based in Iraq. Its parliamentary mandate for the mission expires on Oct. 31.

In June, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S, Central Command (CENTCOM), sent a letter to Germany’s Chief of Defense, Gen. Eberhard Zorn, asking that Berlin “extend its aerial reconnaissance and tank missions in Syria to help U.S. troops fighting against the remnants” of ISIS, German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported Friday.

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