German ministers announced the deployment of Tornado jets, a refueling aircraft and a frigate to the Eastern Mediterranean on Thursday to support the American-led fight against the self-declared Islamic State there.
The country, Europe’s largest, has so far shied away from supporting the war against the fanatical Islamist group in Syria, citing the absence of an international mandate.
It has supplied Kurdish forces fighting the militants in the north of Iraq with military equipment.
Terror attacks in Paris earlier this month, for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility, changed Germany’s calculation.
“If we want to fight terrorism and the reasons people are fleeing, then we have to do so locally,” said Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s defense minister.
Her counntry has also seen the largest influx of immigrants from the Middle East, many of whom are fleeing the violence in Iraq and Syria.
French president François Hollande had asked the Germans for support in the wake of the Paris attacks.
More than 130 people were killed in the French capital in a coordinated wave of shootings and suicide bombings.
Reluctance to use force
Germany has been reluctant to use force since World War II ended in 1945. Its participation in strikes against the Islamic State group is only the third postwar Germany’s has joined a fighting mission. It earlier sent troops to Kosovo and Afghanistan.
The German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who appeared alongside Von der Leyen at a news conference, said, “Striking a balance between what we can do and what we can accept political accountability for, and making that balance available, is what gives us our credibility.”
He argued that a United Nations resolution passed after the attacks in Paris gave sufficient grounds for Germany to get involved. It called on nations to defeat the Islamic State by “all means necessary.”