Hollande happy as Germany joins coalition against IS

05 Dec 2015


French President Francois Hollande on Friday hailed German lawmakers' approval to join the US-led coalition's military campaign against Islamic State militants in Syria.

Following Paris' call to broaden the coalition to combat the IS, whose insurgents are exporting terrorism to Europe, the German parliament overwhelmingly approved Berlin's plan to join the military operation in Syria.

"This decision is a new expression of the solidarity between France and Germany, which joined the European mobilisation (against Islamic State), Hollande said in a statement.

As part of international efforts to uproot Islamic militants in Syria, Britain joined the US, France and Russia on Wednesday in bombing IS targets in the troubled Arab country.

Germany sent reconnaissance jets, a tanker plane and a frigate to provide broad noncombat support to the US-led coalition's 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 13 November attacks that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds.

New Paris suspects
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.

German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen spoke to reporters on Thursday before heading to Ankara for talks with her Turkish counterpart.

She also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to talk about stationing German troops there and other aspects of the deployment, the defense ministry said on Friday.

On Friday, the Belgian federal prosecutor's office said authorities were searching for two new suspects in the Paris attacks.

The men, carrying bogus IDs in the names of Samir Bouzid and Soufiane Kayal, were traveling in a Mercedes with another Paris attack fugitive, Salah Abdeslam, when the car was checked on 9 September at the Hungarian-Austrian border, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

It said the Kayal ID was also used to rent a house in the Belgian town of Auvelais that authorities have searched as a possible site for making the suicide bombs used in the Paris attacks.

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