Italy rules out military action in Syria

Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti on Tuesday ruled out Italy partaking in military action against Isis in Syria.

Italy rules out military action in Syria
Italy's Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti has ruled out military intervention in Syria. Photo: Armend Nimani/AFP

Pinotti said that while Italy is reinforcing its intervention in Iraq, she “rules out an intervention in Syria”.

She also said that Italy has vowed full cooperation with France after the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night.

“Italy has guaranteed France the maximum level of cooperation of our country,” Pinotti was quoted by Ansa as saying after a meeting of EU defence ministers.

“Italy already does a lot because we are among the top contingents in Iraq for the fight against Isis.” 

Pinotti said that a debate is underway in parliament over increasing the number of Italian troops involved in training in Iraq from 500 to 700, “as the coalition asked us too.”

Her comments came after EU defence ministers unanimously backed a French request for help in defeating Isis. France has intensified bombing raids against the terror group's stronghold in Syria and Iraq since Friday’s attacks, which killed 129 people.

“Today the EU, through the voices of all the member states, unanimously expressed its strongest full support and readiness to give the assistance needed,” European Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini said during a press conference in Brussels with French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Read more: EU tells France: we'll help in war against Isis

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was clear on the limits of his country's support when quizzed on the subject on Monday. Asked whether or not Italian forces would be used to engage Isis targets in Syria, Renzi again reiterated his reluctance to start a bombing campaign.

Until now, Italian forces have been present in Syria as part of a Nato coalition but have not been involved in bombing campaigns against Isis targets. 


Italy expels Tunisian tied to Berlin Christmas market attack

Italy's interior ministry said on Saturday it had expelled a Tunisian national linked to the man who carried out a deadly 2016 attack on a Berlin Christmas market.

Italy expels Tunisian tied to Berlin Christmas market attack
The aftermath of the Berlin Christmas Market attack. Image: DPA

Montassar Yaakoubi, described by the ministry as “an associate of the Tunisian terrorist Anis Amri,” was flown to Tunisia on a special flight, the ministry said in a statement, without specifying when.

It was Italy's first such expulsion of a foreign national on state security grounds since such repatriations were suspended due to the coronavirus emergency, it said.

READ: Berlin remembers victims of Christmas market attack

Yaakoubi hosted Amri in Italy before the latter's move to Germany in 2015, the ministry said.

On December 19, 2016, Amri — a rejected asylum seeker from Tunisia and known radical jihadist — hijacked a truck, ploughing into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin and killing 12 people.

Amri, 24, managed to flee Germany after the attack but was shot in Milan by police four days later. In the past five years, Italy has expelled 482 foreign nationals on security grounds, including 21 in 2020.