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James Jeffrey, US Special Representative for Syria. Wikipedia

US demands German ground troops for Syria

The US Special Representative for Syria and the anti-ISIS coalition, James Jeffrey, has called on the German government to support the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the northeast of the country with trainers, logisticians and Bundeswehr technical assistants.

Published: July 8, 2019, 10:13 am

    Berlin

    “We want ground forces from Germany to partially replace our soldiers,” he told the German press agency and Welt am Sonntag. A response from the Federal Government is expected in July.

    The United States wants to withdraw most of its 2 000 troops from northeastern Syria. In March, SDF units conquered the last ISIS-controlled areas in Syria. Some 400 US soldiers are to stay in the country to secure the Kurdish areas.

    Germany has been involved in the anti-ISIS coalition with “Tornado” reconnaissance planes, a tanker and trainers in Iraq. The mission is scheduled to expire on October 31s. However, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) emphasized during an Iraq visit at the beginning of June that the Federal Government was ready to extend it.

    Jeffrey was in Berlin on Friday on a mission to draw pledges of military and financial support from Merkel. “We are looking for volunteers who want to take part here and among other coalition partners,” Jeffrey told the German news outlets. He did not specify specific numbers for the soldiers required.

    Merkel ally Johann Wadephul has called on Berlin to consider Jeffrey’s request. Wadephul is deputy leader of the parliamentary caucus of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU). On Sunday, he warned that the request should not be “rejected in a knee-jerk reaction”.

    “In this region, it’s about our security and not American security,” he said.

    The Iraqi Armed Forces have meanwhile kicked off a large-scale military operation along the Syrian border. On Sunday morning they attacked the Islamic State hideouts in the Salaheddine, Al-Anbar, and Ninawa provinces, Al Masdar News reported.

    Due to the vast desert region between Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State terrorists have been able to evade capture by hiding in caves and mountains between the two countries.

    In particular, ISIS has managed to maintain a presence in Syria’s Badiya Al-Sham region, thanks in large part due to the large number of caves that are present in this desert area, the Syrian agency noted.

    Also this weekend, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad made a bold move to replace long-time intelligence chief Jamil Al-Hassan, a source in Damascus told Al Masdar.

    In addition, the Syrian President ordered military intelligence forces to replace the Air Force Intelligence forces in rural Damascus.

    The source in Damascus added that this move likely comes at the request of Saudi Arabia, who is working to build an alliance in Syria with Russia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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