The U.S Special Representative for engagement in Syria and the anti-ISIS coalition, James Jeffrey asked Germany to send ground troops to Syria.
“We want ground forces from Germany to partially replace our soldiers,” he told the German press agency and Welt am Sonntag.
He urged Merkel’s government to support the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) by sending trainers, logisticians and Bundeswehr technical assistants.
Jeffrey was in Berlin on Friday on a mission to draw pledges of military and financial support from Merkel.
“We are looking for volunteers who want to take part here and among other coalition partners,” Jeffrey told the German news outlets. He did not specify specific numbers for the soldiers required.
Jeffrey’s proposal left Merkel’s party divided.
Deputy caucus chief of Merkel’s Christian Democratic-led party bloc and Christian Social Union (CSU), Johann Wadephul has called on Berlin to consider Jeffrey’s request.
Wadephul stated that the request should not be “rejected in a knee-jerk reaction”.
“In this region, it’s about our security and not American security,” he said.
Fritz Felgentreu, a senior Social Democratic lawmaker told reporters that Germany can’t deploy soldiers to Syria for legal reasons.
Last year, Trump claimed victory over ISIS and ordered the pull out of all 2 000 American soldiers from Syria.
However, Trump later agreed to retain 400 US troops in the country after military officials and Congress declared the withdrawal as premature.
The remaining soldiers are stationed in northeastern Syria, an area that does not fall under President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Washington aims to protect the U.S-backed Kurdish forces who are vulnerable to attacks from Turkey and prevent the resurgence of ISIS in the war torn region. The U.S is hoping that Europe will help push Germany to provide support.
Trump has repeatedly urged Berlin to allocate more funds on defense. Last month, he called out Germany for being delinquent on its contributions to NATO.