Berlin (AFP) – The first batch of German troops and aircraft took off Thursday for Turkey as part of a deployment in the battle against the Islamic State group in Syria.
Forty soldiers and two Tornado reconnaissance jets left from the Jagel military airbase in northern Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein state.
An A310 MRT aerial refuelling jet left separately from Cologne-Wahn base for the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey.
German lawmakers last Friday authorised the deployment of up to 1,200 personnel and the aircraft to join international military operations against the IS, in support of France after the November 13 Paris attacks.
Underlining the significance of the deployment, Schleswig-Holstein’s state premier Torsten Albig said at the send-off ceremony that “the future of Europe depends on this friendship” between France and Germany.
Berlin had swiftly answered France’s call for help in the fight against jihadists, even though post-war Germany has been traditionally reluctant to send troops into military missions abroad.
The six Tornados are fitted with surveillance technology that can take photos and infrared images, even at night and in bad weather, and transmit them in real time to ground stations.
Berlin also said it would send a frigate to help guard the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the eastern Mediterranean.
Germany does not plan bombing runs, unlike France, the United States and Britain.