Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses an election campaign event in Minden, western Germany on August 29, 2013
German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses an election campaign event in Minden, western Germany on August 29, 2013. Germany on Friday ruled out participating in possible strikes against Syria over alleged deadly chemical weapons attacks. © Oliver Krato - DPA/AFP
Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses an election campaign event in Minden, western Germany on August 29, 2013
AFP
Last updated: August 30, 2013

Germany rules out taking part in Syria military strike

Germany on Friday ruled out participating in possible strikes against Syria over alleged deadly chemical weapons attacks.

"We have not considered it and we are not considering a military strike," government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters, adding that in any case, Berlin has not been asked to take part in any such military action.

Seibert's comments came as France said it remained committed to a firm response despite British lawmakers' rejection of any involvement in military action.

Germany earlier in the week said it would back "consequences" against the Syrian regime if it is confirmed that the regime was behind the chemical attacks.

But it did not specify what those consequences would be and gave no indication then on whether it would be part of a military strike.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who faces elections for a third term on September 22, has held in recent days a flurry of phone conversations with world leaders including US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin and Merkel agreed on Thursday on the need for the UN Security Council to study a report by UN experts on the alleged chemical attack, the Kremlin said.

The team is on the last day of its probe into attack that reportedly took place in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21, and that the Syrian opposition says killed hundreds.

The German chancellor had "emphasised that the inhumane poison gas attack against Syrian civilians requires an international reaction," Seibert said in a statement following her talks with the Russian leader.

On Friday, Seibert reiterated that Germany hoped for a common position within the UN Security Council on Syria -- even though Russia has said it opposes any resolution permitting military action against Assad's regime.

His comments echoed those of Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to the Saturday edition of the regional daily Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung, pre-released earlier.

"We are pushing for the United Nations Security Council to find a common position and for the work of UN inspectors to be finished as quickly as possible," Westerwelle told the paper.

A poll published Thursday showed that 58 percent of Germans would oppose military action by the West in Syria after the alleged chemical attack, while 33 percent said they would back it.

The German government says it faces strict restrictions on the deployment of the military set down in the constitution in light of abuses by troops and paramilitary forces in the Nazi era.

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