German Backing For Fight Against Islamic State Rises As Parliament Starts Debate

German Air Force

BERLIN (Reuters) – German support for military involvement in the campaign against Islamic State has risen sharply with 42 percent backing action, a poll showed on Wednesday shortly before ministers make their case to parliament for a new mission.

In direct response to a French appeal for solidarity after the attacks in Paris which killed 130 people, Germany has joined other countries in stepping up its role in the military campaign against IS insurgents in Syria.

Britain’s parliament is likely to vote on Wednesday to approve air strikes.

Germany, already arming Iraqi Kurds fighting IS, is stopping short of joining the United States, France and Russia in air strikes but plans to send up to 1,200 soldiers, six Tornado reconnaissance jets, a frigate and refuelling aircraft.

After cabinet approved the plans on Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ministers will open a debate in the Bundestag lower house of parliament on Wednesday.

A strong majority for her “grand coalition”, made up of her conservatives and the Social Democrats, means the plans are set to sail through in a vote, expected on Friday despite dissent from the pacifist Left party and some opposition Greens.

In a country that has been reluctant since World War Two to send soldiers on foreign missions, the move is significant and although 54 percent of Germans are against joining the campaign against IS, opposition is down from 68 percent in February.

The Forsa poll showed 42 percent of Germans back a role for their country in fighting IS, up from 27 percent in February. Still more surprising is that 28 percent think German fighter jets should join air strikes and 24 percent say Germany should send ground troops if needed.

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen has warned voters that the mission will be tough and stressed the importance of international efforts to get a political solution for Syria.