Germany Warns France, UK Against Leaping Into Bombing Fry In Syria

Germany Warns Allies On the Dangers of Escalating Military Role in Syria

Wall Street Journal

Frank-Walter Steinmeier warns goodwill generated by the recent nuclear deal between the West and Iran could evaporate over competing strategies for Syria

 German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrives for an EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting on Friday. He said he was dismayed by the French and British military decisions as well as by reports that Russian forces have moved new personnel, planes and equipment into Syria. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrives for an EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting on Friday. He said he was dismayed by the French and British military decisions as well as by reports that Russian forces have moved new personnel, planes and equipment into Syria. Photo: European Pressphoto Agency

BERLIN—Germany’s foreign minister on Wednesday sharply criticized France and the U.K. for considering an escalation in military action in Syria, and warned of the dangers posed by Russia’s military buildup in the country.

In a wide raging speech to Germany’s lower house of parliament, Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned that the goodwill generated by the recent nuclear deal between the West and Iran could evaporate over competing strategies for Syria.

“I witness, with some dismay, news that the militaries of the U.K. and France could engage more strongly in Syria,” Mr. Steinmeier said. He told lawmakers that Germany’s allies must not gamble everything on a military solution, “and destroy the chance of a negotiated solutions that might have been possible for the first time.”

His comments come after President François Hollande said France is preparing to launch airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria, and the British government said two British citizens fighting for Islamic State in Syria were killed in a targeted drone attack by the Royal Air Force.

Mr. Steinmeier said he was dismayed by the French and British military decisions as well as by reports that Russian forces have moved new personnel, planes and equipment into Syria, raising concerns that Moscow is moving to establish a new military base to aid embattled Mr. al-Assad.

Iran and Russia are understood to be backing Mr. al-Assad with significant diplomatic, political and military support.

Berlin had hoped that the recent landmark nuclear deal reached between Iran and the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, Germany and France would provide an opportunity to make progress in resolving the Syrian crisis, and Mr. Steinmeier said Iran could still be a key player in ending the conflict.

“If Iran ends military and financial support to the parties involved in the fighting, and if others do the same, for the first time there could be a chance to make progress also in Syria.”

But in an apparent show of defiance to the West, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday his country wouldn’t negotiate with the U.S. beyond nuclear issues.

The present migrant crisis has put the limelight back on to the conflict in Syria, with European officials linking the recent swelling number of refugees from Syria to Islamic State activities in the region.

Germany is one of the migrants’ key destinations in Europe.

Write to Andrea Thomas at andrea.thomas@wsj.com