BERLIN Oct 12 Chancellor Angela Merkel's
cabinet on Wednesday approved the deployment of additional
German troops to Turkey to help operate NATO surveillance
aircraft as part of the U.S-led fight against Islamic State,
government sources said.
The Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft
will be based at Konya air base in southern Turkey. They will be
used for reconnaissance in support of air strikes against
Islamic State targets.
The German military, or Bundeswehr, provides about one third
of the crews used to operate and maintain NATO's AWACS planes,
but German law requires that individual missions must be
approved by parliament. No details were provided on exactly how
many troops would be part of the deployment.
Germany already has about 500 military personnel involved in
the fight against Islamic State, including over 240 who are
based at Incirlik air base in Turkey to operate six Tornado
surveillance aircraft and a refuelling plane. Others are on
board a German frigate that is operating in the eastern
Mediterranean with the French aircraft carrier Charles de
The total number of German troops participating in the fight
against Islamic State is capped at 1,200 and will not be
increased, the sources said.
German involvement in combating IS was "a core part of our
security policy in the region, which is aimed at countering the
direct and immediate danger to Germany, our allies and the
international community," the draft legislation said.
NATO approved the new AWACS mission in July and could start
flying the planes this month, although initially without German
crews since the German parliament is not expected to approve the
expanded German role until November.
NATO has been operating some AWACS from Konya air base since
early 2016 as part of a separate mission approved after Turkey
shot down a Russian fighter jet in the border area in November
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold, Writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing
by Mark Trevelyan)