German lawmakers on Friday overwhelming approved a broad non-combat mission to aid the coalition fight against the so-called Islamic State, including reconnaissance jets and a frigate, following a call from France for support following last month’s attacks in Paris.
The 134 million euro ($145 million) mission will see two Tornado reconnaissance planes sent to Turkey’s Incirlik base as early as next week as part of a plan crafted by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet earlier this week. The frigate is already en route to join French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.
“The goal… is to fight and contain IS, and destroy their safe havens and their ability to lead worldwide terror operations,” Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in Berlin on Thursday before heading to Ankara for talks with her Turkish counterpart to talk over logistics and other details.
She also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to talk about the stationing of German troops there and other aspects of the deployment, the Defense Ministry said Friday.
The mission comes after Merkel agreed to honor a request from France in the wake of the attacks in Paris to provide support for its operations against IS in Syria.
Parliament voted 445 in support of the plan and 146 against with seven abstentions.
In total, Germany plans to send up to six Tornado reconnaissance planes, a tanker aircraft and a frigate to help protect the French aircraft carrier, but won’t actively engage in combat.
A maximum contingent of 1,200 soldiers was also approved, who will serve as support troops in Turkey and elsewhere, including at headquarters operations in Qatar and Kuwait.
French President Francois Hollande on Friday visited the Charles de Gaulle, France’s only aircraft carrier, which was dispatched to the region a week before the Nov. 13 attacks that killed 130 in Paris.
It’s been launching raids against Islamic State bases as part of the U.S.-led coalition’s strikes against the group.
The French carrier had previously been deployed in the Persian Gulf from February to April this year, conducting between 15 and 20 flights per day, according to the French military.
British jets flew their first missions as part of the coalition’s efforts on Thursday, striking oil fields in eastern Syria that help finance IS.
Meantime, an effort to create a united front on Syria ahead of peace talks early next year, Saudi Arabia will host Syrian opposition groups and many of the main rebel factions seeking to oust President Bashar Assad.
Saudi Arabia is a main backer of the opposition groups and next week’s three-day meeting is the first it has hosted since the outbreak of the nearly five-year civil war.
Their participation is indicative of the evolution of the conflict as many groups rejected any negotiations with Damascus as long as Assad was in power. Now they will attempt to join a process that the United States and its allies say must eventually lead to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s removal _ but with no timetable for it.
A peace plan agreed to last month by 17 nations meeting in Vienna sets a Jan. 1 deadline for the start of negotiations between Assad’s government and opposition groups. The plan says nothing about Assad’s future, but states that “free and fair elections would be held pursuant to the new constitution within 18 months.”
Among the nations that took part in the Vienna meeting were the United States, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Russia and Iran have been Assad’s strongest supporters since the crisis began in March 2011 while Saudi Arabia and Turkey have backed factions trying to remove the Syrian president from power.
Iran has denounced the meeting saying it will add new obstacles to a solution instead of helping to solve it.