BERLIN, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) — The Bundestag, lower house of the German parliament, voted on Friday with a large majority to join the combat mission against the Islamic State (IS).
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition used its majority in the Bundestag to pass the deployment of German armed forces against the IS under UN and EU collective security laws. The mandate was endorsed by 445 parliamentarians, with 146 others voting no and seven abstaining.
The deployment outlined earlier this week by German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen will involve six “Tornado” reconnaissance planes, a refueling aircraft, a frigate to help guard the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, as well as logistics and command personnel and satellite links.
In total, Germany plans to send up to 1,200 troops to support the international alliance in its anti-terror actions. The mission becomes Germany’s largest overseas deployment of troops at the moment.
The German armed forces are expected to start deploying reconnaissance planes in the coming week to Turkey where a NATO military base is located.
Berlin’s decision for the anti-IS mission came after France requested aid in combating the IS following deadly attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 that claimed 130 lives. The IS claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The German cabinet approved on Tuesday a mandate offering military assistance in the fight against the IS in Syria. The mandate would stay in effect until December 31, 2016.
“The German public can be certain: The Syria operation transgresses neither against international law nor against the German Basic Law,” German Justice Minister Heiko Maas told media ahead of Friday’s parliamentary vote.
“There are three resolutions of the UN Security Council against the IS, which cover the submitted mandate. In addition, France can quite rightly cite the support obligations of its EU partners,” he added.
During a debate before the vote, Norbert Roettgen, chairman of the parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and MP of Merkel’s conservatives, told fellow lawmakers that Europe must press on with diplomatic efforts in the Middle East, but that the military action was vital to achieving peace in the region.
However, opposition MPs from the Green Party and the Left Party have argued against the cabinet’s plan of sending troops.
Sahra Wagenknecht, leader of the Left Party, believed that the planned German mission against the IS was dangerous. “War only makes things worse. You won’t fight the IS this way, you’ll only strengthen them,” she said.
Green Party leader Anton Hofreiter described the mandate for military action as “haphazard” and “unthought-through”. “I have the impression that your mandate is doing something for the sake of doing something,” he told lawmakers.
Hofreiter also criticized the weak detail of the motion, pointing out that the mission lacks a strategy and many questions related to it still remain unexplained.