Germany rules out air strikes, ground troops in Iraq

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday said Germany would not be involved in air strikes or any ground offensive in the fight against Islamic State jihadists in Iraq.

AFP| Updated: Sep 22, 2014, 02:47 AM IST

Berlin: German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday said Germany would not be involved in air strikes or any ground offensive in the fight against Islamic State jihadists in Iraq.

As part of the US-led international coalition formed to stop the advance of IS militants in Iraq and Syria, Steinmeier said there was a sharing of tasks among the allies and that Germany would not be taking on a stronger role.

The decisions already taken by Berlin to send arms to Kurdish fighters battling IS militants, "were not taken easily," he said.

He added that Germany was not under any pressure to join the United States and France in launching air strikes on territory controlled by the IS group.

"No, the coalition doesn`t work that way," he told public broadcaster ARD.

"The alliance that has been formed is going to divide up the work. We have taken our part... of the responsibility," the top German diplomat said.

"For us there is no question of it," he said in reference to air strikes or ground troops.

Late last month Berlin announced that it was sending weapons to the Peshmerga Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq to help them fight off IS jihadists.

It has also sent around 40 soldiers to help train the Kurdish fighters in Iraq.

Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the decision to aid the Kurds in an address to parliament on September 1.

"We have the opportunity to save lives and stop the further spread of mass murder in Iraq," Merkel said during an impassioned 25-minute speech.

"We have the chance to prevent terrorists from creating another safe haven for themselves. We must take this chance."

Supplying military hardware is unusual for Germany which, burdened by its past aggression in two world wars, generally shies away from foreign military engagements and as a rule does not export weapons into war zones.

The German army is under the control of parliament which must approve any intervention by troops in a conflict zone, which is highly unlikely.