US asks Germany to send ground troops into Syria to aid anti-ISIS fight

US special envoy for Syria and the anti-ISIS coalition James Jeffrey (left) walks alongside European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini ahead of their meeting in Brussels on June 28, 2019. PHOTO: EPA - EFE

BERLIN (DPA) - The United States has asked Germany to support the fight against remnants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group by sending ground troops to support the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in north-eastern Syria.

Mr James Jeffrey, US special envoy for Syria and the anti-ISIS coalition, wants the German government to send training forces, logistical experts and technical workers from the Bundeswehr.

"We want ground troops from Germany to partly replace our soldiers," Mr Jeffrey told dpa and the German weekly Welt am Sonntag. He said he expects an answer before the end of the month.

US forces have been supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance that includes Kurdish YPG militia and other rebel groups. In March, the Syrian Democratic Forces captured the last bastion of ISIS in Syria, though the radical Islamists have remained active underground.

US President Donald Trump in December announced plans to pull all 2,000 US soldiers out of north-eastern Syria. He later backtracked and said that some 400 will stay to help stabilise the Kurdish region, which straddles the border between Iraq and Syria.

The US has since been working to secure more support from the 80 allies in the anti-ISIS coalition, including Germany, as US forces begin to draw down.

Germany has been supporting the anti-ISIS coalition from outside the country, supplying Tornado reconnaissance planes and a refuelling plane out of Jordan, as well as training forces in Iraq.

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