Germany warns Russia, France, Britain against military engagement in Syria

Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Minister of Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) attend a session at the lower house of parliament Bundestag on Germany's 2016 budget in Berlin, Germany September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN: Germany's foreign minister warned Russia, France and Britain Wednesday against increased military intervention in Syria, saying the Iran nuclear deal and new U.N. initiatives offered a starting point for a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier made his comments after Russia, which along with Iran supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said earlier Wednesday it had military experts in Syria. Assad is opposed by most Western countries.

Germany is keen to negotiate an end to the more than four-year-old civil war in Syria, but France is considering launching air strikes against ISIS militants there and Britain is ready carry out more.

"It can't be the case that important partners, who we need now, back the military option," Steinmeier told German lawmakers, pointing to consideration being given in France and Britain to airstrikes.

He expressed his dismay at reports that Russia is stepping up its provision of military equipment to Syria.

With Germany holding the rotating presidency of the Group of Seven economic powers, Steinmeier said he would organise a meeting of G7 countries and Syria's Arab neighbours before the United Nations General Assembly later this month.

The meeting would aim to raise more funds for the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR.

"It is a scandal that the UNHCR in these days of the greatest refugee movement is so under-financed," he told the Bundestag lower house of parliament.





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