German defense minister visits troops at Jordan base
Ursula von der Leyen was visiting a contingent of German troops stationed at the Azraq air base in northern Jordan, where German aircraft have been flying reconnaissance and refueling missions as part of the international military campaign against IS.
Jordan, which borders former IS strongholds in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, has been a key ally in the US-led campaign.
Von der Leyen said Saturday that the fight against the militants would continue, in part to ensure they don't take root in rear positions.
The international community faces continued challenges, including stabilising the region in the long term, said the minister, who was accompanied by a group of German parliamentarians.
"It's important to me that Germany give assurances that we are reliable," she said.
Four German reconnaissance planes and a refueling aircraft fly missions from Azraq, with an average of 280 German troops stationed there since October.
The contingent was initially stationed in Turkey, but moved to Jordan after Turkey repeatedly barred German parliamentarians from visiting the troops.
|German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Saturday
that the fight against the militants would continue [AP]
In recent months the Islamic State group has lost large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq, raising questions about the future scope of the anti-IS mission.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the 'end of war against IS' in Iraq in December.
In the same month, Russia announced they would begin withdrawing "a significant part" of their contigent in Syria, as the war against the militants had been won.
However, the Russian defense minister announced some weeks later that they will establish a "permanent presence" in Syria, at the Hmeimim airbase and the Tartous naval facility, which it plans to expand.
The US-led international coalition forces that have been fighting the Islamic State group in Syria said they will remain in the country, stating in December that the war was not yet over.