Monday, October 6, 2014

Canada deploying jets for six-month mission in Iraq to battle ISIS

Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivers details about Canada's proposed military commitment against Islamic State forces in Iraq
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he wants Canada to take part in airstrikes against militants in the Middle East and maintain its special-forces operations in Iraq for a period of up to six months.

But he is expressly ruling out the possibility of Canada taking part in combat operations on the ground in Iraq.

Harper made the announcement during a rare statement in the House of Commons, which was accompanied by the text of a long-awaited motion which, if passed, would extend Canada’s role in the battle against the al-Qaida splinter group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The motion says the government wants to contribute Canadian military assets, “including airstrike capability,” in Iraq for up to six months, but also says the government will not deploy troops “in ground combat operations.”

“Today we are bringing forward a motion asking this House to confirm its confidence for a government decision to join our allies and partners … in launching airstrikes against ISIL,” Harper told the Commons.

“We will also contribute one air-to-air refuelling aircraft, two Aurora surveillance aircraft, and the necessary air crews and support personnel.”

The resolution also calls for an extension of Canada’s current deployment in Iraq of up to 69 special-forces “advisers.”

“There will, however, be no ground combat mission, which is explicitly ruled out in the resolution.”

Harper also says that while the mission is currently focused on Iraq, Canada would participate in airstrikes against targets in Syria once that government granted permission to do so.

“We will strike ISIL where, and only where, Canada has the clear support of the government of that country. At present, that is only true in Iraq,” he said.

“If it were to become the case in Syria, then we would participate in airstrikes in that country also.”

The motion says ISIL has called on its members to target Canada and Canadians at home and abroad, and it says the global threat posed by the al-Qaida splinter group is only expected to grow.

It acknowledges the group poses a “clear and direct threat” to the people of the region, including religious and ethnic minorities who have been subjected to “brutal sexual violence, murder and barbaric intimidation.”

The motion also affirms Canada’s desire to protect vulnerable and innocent civilians in the region, including through “urgent” humanitarian assistance.


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