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Turkey confirms use of German Leopard tanks in Efrin operation

Turkey has confirmed that its forces are using German Leopard 2 tanks in the offensive in Syria’s Efrin, according to a report from the German Ministry for Economic Affairs.

The ministry confirmed that “according to the Turkish government, Leopard 2A4 tanks supplied by Germany have been used in the Turkish military operation ‘Olive Branch’ that began on January 20, 2018,” Deutsche Welle reported on Monday.

A foreign ministry spokesperson told DW that Ankara had not denied “that German tanks could have been deployed in Syria.”

On Thursday, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Germany had decided to postpone planned upgrades to Turkey’s Leopard tanks after they were spotted in the Efrin operation.

Turkey had requested German upgrades to its Leopard 2 tanks to make them less vulnerable to improvised explosive devices, but lawmakers – including some from Angela Merkel’s own CDU party – protested the proposed deal after photos emerged of them being used in the Efrin operation.

Turkey operates more than 350 Leopard tanks, although a number were damaged or destroyed by Islamic State in Syria.

Gabriel had been a proponent of the deal, which was announced the day before Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch.

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