(MENAFN - Daily Outlook Afghanistan) WASHINGTON - TheUS wants Germany to send troops to Syria to partially backfill the diminishingAmerican presence there – even though Berlin rules out any intervention in thatwar and Damascus sees Western forces there as 'invaders.
Washington hasformally asked Berlin to take its place in the Syrian conflict, replacing acertain portion of the US contingent, Special Representative for SyriaEngagement James Jeffrey told Die Welt's Sunday edition and DPA news agency,adding that he awaits a response from the German government this month. He saidthe request directly related to the ongoing US drawdown on Syrian soil.
Washington is currentlyreaching out to coalition members that are against Islamic State (IS, formerlyISIS) and are willing to send military personnel to Syria, the diplomatexplained. He then sang Germany's praises, calling the country an importantpartner in the fight against IS that is able to throw its weight behind the US.
Jeffrey didn't ask for a specific number of troops, only making it clearthat German personnel would not have to take direct part in hostilities. AGerman contribution could takeforms such as providing air support, logistics, training, and technicalassistance, the diplomat hinted.
Berlin joined theUS-led anti-IS campaign in 2015, but stopped just short of sending boots on theground. Their contribution was limited to providing air reconnaissance andin-flight refueling for other Western nations' flying sorties in Iraq andSyria. Separately, German Navy ships saw occasional deployments in the EasternMediterranean. Germany has generally been wary of a direct intervention in theSyrian crisis. In May of last year, Chancellor Angela Merkel assured the publicthat the Bundeswehr 'will not participate in possible military actionsalthough it is ready to assist other allies. Over time, that stance has notchanged much.
However, the UScontinued to pile pressure on Germany by year's end, tasking Ambassador Jeffrey– a fluent German speaker and a career State Department official – withsecuring Berlin's consent to engage in the Syrian war.
Last month, he saidthat several coalition members will soon announce their decisions to backfillUS ground troops leaving Syria. 'There's something pending to look forward to.Very pending, he told Defense One.
The diplomat did notreveal which countries he expected would provide the troops, but said some ofthem may choose to participate 'quietly, and 'that's fine by us.
The US has a limited number oftroops in Syria, where they entered without the consent of the government or aUN authorization. Most of them are occupying the 55-kilometer zone in southernSyria which at times lay close to IS-infiltrated parts of the country. Damascushas always maintained that the Western military presence in Syria isillegitimate, pledging to liberate 'every inch of the country from uninvitedforeign troops. (RT)