No change to Iraq policy after Philippines hostage threat: Germany

24th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

Germany said Wednesday it would not change its policy following a reported threat by Philippine Islamist militants to kill a German hostage unless Berlin stops backing US action against jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

"We heard about the report and I would like to say one thing: threats are not an appropriate way to influence our policy in Syria and Iraq," a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

"There will be no change to our Syria and Iraq policy."

A terrorism monitoring group reported Tuesday that Islamist extremists in the Philippines have threatened to kill one of two German hostages unless a 250 million pesos ($5.62 million) ransom is paid and Berlin stops supporting the US-led campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

US-based SITE, which monitors extremists' activities worldwide, released a picture attributed to the Abu Sayyaf group showing a masked militant with a machete beside a grey-haired white man.

A younger white woman with close-cropped hair was also shown, while other masked men stood behind them, armed with assault rifles and machine guns.

The foreign ministry spokeswoman said that the German government had set up a crisis task force on the case "and we will of course continue our efforts to secure a release".

The German government has ruled out joining air strikes or any ground offensive in the fight against IS jihadists.

But it announced late last month that it would send weapons to the Peshmerga Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq to help them fend off IS jihadists.

It has also sent around 40 soldiers to help train the Kurdish fighters in Iraq.

The move broke a taboo in Germany which, burdened with its past aggression in two world wars, generally shies away from foreign military engagements and as a rule does not export weapons into war zones.

© 2014 AFP

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