Germany on Tuesday extended its military mandate in Iraq, but will end reconnaissance missions by Oct. 31, 2019.
The government in Berlin chose to extend its non-combat military involvement in Iraq by one year. The German Parliament initially extended its mandate to continue training Kurdish Peshmerga Forces and specialists within the Iraqi army.
Parliament also decided Germany would end its reconnaissance missions and air-to-air refueling of international aircraft, operations which are part of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, by Oct. 31, 2019. It did not offer a reason for ending those missions in the two war-torn countries.
“In order to secure the military successes in the fight against the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) and to prevent the terrorist organization from regaining strength, the continued suppression of the terrorist organization by military means remains necessary,” the cabinet text read.
In September, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen visited the Azraq airbase in Jordan where aircrafts taking part in reconnaissance and refueling missions are currently stationed. At the time, she could not rule out a longer-term deployment of Germany’s troops in the Middle East
There is a limit of 800 military soldiers that can be deployed in Jordan, and it will remain unaffected.
The European Union member, in total, had 150 German personnel in the Kurdistan Region over the past few years who were providing training to Peshmerga forces. Germany, now, is aiming to decrease the number.
“In Syria and Iraq, great successes have been recorded in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist organization,” the cabinet statement asserted.
Over the past few years, IS militants have lost control over large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, but the jihadist group continues to launch insurgency attacks in the region.
Regarding ongoing IS attacks in the disputed territories of Iraq, von der Leyen called on the Iraqi forces and Peshmerga to cooperate to combat insurgency threats in the area.