US pushes Germany to keep planes in Syria to spy

German Tornado
File AFP

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — The United States is seeking to persuade Germany to extend the anti-Daesh mission of its planes in Syria and Iraq, in part because of the Tornado’s ability to conduct reconnaissance missions, according to Der Spiegel.

Operation of German Tornado aircraft in Syria and Iraq, which is due to end in October, may be extended at the request of Washington, which is counting on Berlin for the protection of its ground troops, said Der Spiegel magazine referring to a confidential letter from the US Central Command Chief (CENTCOM) Kenneth McKenzie to the Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr.

“The coalition needs the military potential of all its partners to carry out operations against extremists in the region. I therefore respectfully request that you continue your assistance by carrying out reconnaissance missions , refueling planes in flight and by training soldiers in Iraq,” says General McKenzie’s letter quoted by Der Spiegel.

According to the German weekly, this letter urges the German government to extend the mandate of the forces deployed since 2015 in Jordan under the name Camp Sonic.

Aircraft stationed at Camp Sonic base in Jordan perform reconnaissance missions and provide air-to-air refueling for Allied aircraft.

At the end of May, Der Spiegel announced that secret American-German negotiations on the extension of this mission in the Middle East had been going on for months. Berlin reportedly said it would be ready to help secure a buffer zone in northern Syria.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who visited the air base in Jordan on Friday (June 7th), admitted that German planes could stay there after October 31st. This statement was made after a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, notes Der Spiegel.

However, this project does not have full support in Germany. Heiko Maas’ Social Democrat Party (SPD) and Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) have agreed in 2018 that the mission in Jordan should end in 2019 at most. SPD interim leader Rolf Mützenich recently stressed that his party was against this extension.

US soldiers are in northern Syria to help the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fight Daesh. In his letter, General McKenzie said the fight against Daesh in Syria and Iraq was far from over.

On December 19, Donald Trump announced that the United States had crushed Daesh in Syria, saying the fight against the terrorist group was the only reason for the US military presence in the country. But he then insisted on creating a 30-km buffer zone in northern Syria to protect Kurds against Turkish attacks. The SDF is dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) which Turkey regards as a terrorist organization and the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) banned in Turkey.

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