German parliament extends Afghan anti-terror mandate

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BERLIN, Nov 15 (Reuters) Germany's lower house of parliament voted overwhelmingly today to renew its option to participate in US counter-terrorist operations in Afghanistan, despite widespread public opposition.

The were 414 votes in favour, 145 against and 15 abstentions.

Although no German special forces have taken part in such activities for years, opinion polls show the vast majority of Germans oppose staying on the list of potential participants.

For months left wing lawmakers were calling for an end to German involvement in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), the official name for the US invasion of Afghanistan to topple its Taliban government after the attacks of Sept 11, 2001.

Since then, OEF has been expanded to cover the broader fight against terrorism and not only special combat operations in Afghanistan, where NATO troops are struggling to pacify an increasingly resilient Taliban insurgency.

Germany has some 3,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led peacekeeping operation that is separate from the OEF mandate, which allows the deployment of up to 100 special forces in Afghanistan and up to 1,400 to monitor the Horn of Africa.

REUTERS PD BST1703

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