BERLIN – The German government said on Monday it was in talks with its allies about a possible military deployment in Syria, prompting a sharp rebuke from the Social Democrats (SPD) and setting up a fresh conflict in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s loveless coalition.
Overseas military action remains a sensitive and deeply unpopular topic in Germany, given its Nazi past. Participation in any air strikes in Syria would also put Germany on a collision course with Russia, the main backer of President Bashar Assad.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Germany had discussed with the United States and European allies its possible military involvement if Assad’s forces used chemical weapons against the last major rebel stronghold in Idlib, now under heavy Syrian and Russian bombardment.
“There has not been a situation where a decision has had to be made,” Seibert told a regular news conference, adding that the government would include parliament in any decision.
Earlier, Bild newspaper had reported that Germany’s conservative-led defense ministry was examining possible options for joining U.S., British and French forces in any future military action if Damascus again used chemical weapons.
It said parliament would only be notified of any military action after the fact if speedy action were required.