Germany’s highest court July 3 rejected a legal complaint against the deployment of Tornado jets in Afghanistan in support of NATO’s offensive against Taliban extremists.The federal constitutional court said it found no evidence that the use of six German reconnaissance planes since April represented a break with NATO’s “focus on peacekeeping” in the war-ravaged country.It also approved the controversial cooperation of German soldiers with the US-led anti-terror operation Enduring Freedom.The new Left Party, comprised of former East German communists and disaffected Social Democrats, had argued that the deployment of German Tornados with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) violated the NATO charter limiting alliance deployments to Europe and North America.It said the Afghanistan mission constituted a major amendment of the treaty that should have required the German government to seek parliamentary approval.The court ruled that the ISAF mission, which includes about 3,000 German troops, served to protect “the security of the Euro-Atlantic region.”The judges noted that the operations in Afghanistan were prompted by a direct attack on a NATO partner, the suicide hijackings of September 11, 2001 in the United States.Al-Qaeda operatives including leader Osama bin Laden sought refuge in Afghanistan when the Taliban were in power there.Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung welcomed the ruling, saying he expected parliament to approve an extension of the mandate for the jets in October.“I am happy the constitutional court confirmed the position of the government that the deployment of the Tornado jets is constitutional and complies with our basic law,” he told reporters at a security conference in Berlin.“I think that is an important message for our soldiers, who are making an important contribution to peace and stability. The Tornados offer protection to our soldiers and the [civilian] population.”The Tornados were deployed primarily to supply aerial images of Taliban positions.

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