Germany stepped up its contribution to the fight against the Islamic State group on Friday, with lawmakers overwhelmingly voting in favor of sending reconnaissance jets, a tanker plane and a frigate to provide broad noncombat support to the U.S.-led coalition flying airstrikes against the militants.
The move answers a call for help from France following last month’s deadly attacks in Paris. IS militants claimed responsibility for the Nov. 13 attacks that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds.
On Friday, Belgian and French authorities said they were hunting two new suspects in the Paris carnage. The men used fake identity cards and sent money to a relative of the man who orchestrated the attacks the day before the ringleader died in a shootout with French police, the Belgian prosecutor’s office said.
The German Parliament voted 445 in support of the mission against IS and 146 against, with seven abstentions. The plan received wide support from the ranks of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition, a week after the German leader assured French President Francois Hollande that Germany would “act quickly” to help its ally.
German opposition lawmakers, however, questioned the effectiveness of military operations against the extremists.
“You won’t fight IS that way. You’ll only strengthen it,” Left Party lawmaker Sahra Wagenknecht told Parliament.
Her criticism echoed the concerns voiced by Nicolas Henin, a French journalist who was held hostage by Islamic State militants for 10 months until being freed in April 2014. Henin told The Associated Press that while using military muscle against the group shouldn’t be ruled out, it should only be a small part of a broader strategy.
“The party that will win is not the party that will have the most powerful, the most modern or the most expensive weaponry or even the bravest fighters,” Henin said.
“The side that will win … is the party that will have the Syrian people on its side. By bombing Syria, we are pushing the Syrians into the hands of IS.”
The 134 million-euro ($145 million) German mission will see two Tornado reconnaissance planes sent to Turkey’s Incirlik base as early as next 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 Thursday before heading to Ankara for talks with her Turkish counterpart.
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