BERLIN (AP) — Germany is planning to send up to 1,200 troops to support the international coalition fighting against the Islamic State group in Syria, officials said Monday.
The figure would be an "upper limit" for the number of troops needed to operate the reconnaissance aircraft, tanker planes and a warship that Germany intends to send to the region, said Defense Ministry spokesman Jens Flosdorff.
Following the Paris attacks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to honor a request from France to provide support for its military operations against IS in Syria. Germany already provides weapons and training for Kurds fighting against IS in Iraq.
The Cabinet is due to agree the mission's mandate Tuesday and put it to Parliament for approval. German troops won't actively engage in combat.
Officials rejected any suggestion that Germany might cooperate with troops still loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, but left open the possibility that the country's military might become part of an anti-IS coalition.
"There will be no future with Assad, that is clear," Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Sunday on ZDF television.
The question of Assad's future has been bracketed out of current international talks on a political solution to the conflict in Syria. "It currently cannot be solved, but doesn't make this question a prerequisite for any kind of progress toward a political solution for Syria," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer.
Germany wants to avoid the destruction of the Syrian state, opening a vacuum for extremists like in Iraq and Libya, he said. "We're still living with the consequences of that."
"One of the conclusions is that the state institutions that exist beneath the authoritarian presidential regime of the Assads, which has been ruling for several decades, that one tries to preserve these structures because they might be something that all groups in Syrian society can agree on," said Schaefer.