The German cabinet has approved plans to commit up to 1,200 soldiers to support the international coalition fighting against Islamic State in Syria.
The mandate, which requires parliamentary approval, was endorsed by ministers on Tuesday. It is not yet clear when lawmakers will consider the proposals, but Angela Merkel’s governing coalition has a large majority and approval looks assured.
Following the Paris attacks, the chancellor agreed to honour a request from France to provide support for its operations against Isis in Syria. Germany plans to send reconnaissance aircraft, tanker planes and a warship to the region in support roles, but will not actively engage in combat.
The mandate is for one year at a cost of €134m (£94m) and can be extended next year.
Germanys’ foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, acknowledged ahead of the cabinet vote that it could be a protracted fight. “We are doing what is militarily necessary, what we can do best, and what we can back politically,” Steinmeier told the daily Bild. “We need patience against an enemy like IS.”
No date has been set for the parliamentary vote but approval is considered virtually guaranteed as Merkel’s “grand coalition” government has an overwhelming majority.
A German frigate could help protect the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the eastern Mediterranean, from which fighter jets are carrying out bombing runs, and tanker aircraft could refuel them mid-air to extend their range, the defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, said last week.