Bundeswehr 'unprepared for chemical warfare'
As the German government gave the go-ahead on Friday to send 400 troops to the Turkish-Syrian border, a soldiers' association voiced concern that they would not be properly equipped against chemical, nuclear or biological attack.
There was no plan in place to shield troops at the border from nuclear, biological and chemical warfare, Ulrich Kirsch, chairman of German military association Bundeswehrverband, told Die Welt newspaper.
“Initially the operation in Turkey for the two patriot squadrons looked well planned,” he said, adding that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime were to launch a chemical attack, keeping the technology to endure it in Germany would not help those on the Syrian border.
The government approved Germany's participation in the NATO mission by a large majority on Friday afternoon. Around 400 of its troops will now be sent to Turkey to be deployed alongside a number of Patriot missiles to help defend the country's border with Syria.
They should arrive in January 2013 and will probably stay until January 31, 2014.
The Green party and the Social Democrats have both suggested they would be supporting the operation, Die Welt said.
German Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière said the troop deployment would help stabilize the region. "The deterrent serves to ensure that the [chemical] capability does not become an intention," he told reporters earlier this month.
Turkey is a vocal opponent of the regime in Syria, where monitoring groups say over 41,000 people have been killed in almost 21 months of conflict.