Germany has turned down a request from Washington to deploy ground forces in Syria as the U.S. military looks to scale back its presence in the region, describing the proposal as inconsistent with Berlin’s “well-known” policy, RT reports.
U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey has confirmed that he had asked the German government to provide troops to replace a portion of U.S. forces currently stationed in Syria. He said the request was part of Washington’s preparations for an eventual U.S. military withdrawal in the country.
Berlin didn’t wait long before issuing a curt “nein” to its transatlantic ally.
“When I say the government envisages sticking to the current measures in the anti-Islamic State (military) coalition, this includes no ground troops, as is well known,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said during a news conference on Monday, July 8.
The response shouldn’t come as a shock to Washington. Germany has generally been wary of a direct military intervention in Syria. In May of last year, Chancellor Angela Merkel assured the public that the Bundeswehr “will not participate in possible military actions.”
While Germany has shunned the idea, Jeffrey seems confident that other U.S. allies will commit to sending troops to Syria. The U.S. diplomat told Defense One that he expects a “breakthrough” agreement in the coming weeks, which would include coalition forces replacing U.S. troops as they withdraw from Syria.
Damascus insists that the Western military presence in Syria is illegitimate, pledging to liberate “every inch” of the country from uninvited foreign troops.