Canada to bomb militants in Iraq

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Published: Wednesday 8th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Canada’s parliament has approved air strikes against the Islamic State (IS) militant group in Iraq, following a US request.

Prime minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party introduced the motion last week and it was debated this week. Mr Harper has a majority of seats in parliament so the 157-134 vote was all but assured.

It authorises air strikes in Iraq for up to six months and states explicitly that no ground troops be used in combat operations.

The combat mission includes up to six CF-18 fighter jets, a refuelling tanker aircraft, two surveillance planes and one airlift aircraft. About 600 airmen and women will be involved.

Canada is among dozens of countries that have joined the US-led coalition fighting the brutal militant group.

“Canada will do our part,” Conservative cabinet minister Lisa Raitt tweeted after the vote.

Canada has more than two dozen special forces advisers already in Iraq and has plans for up to 69 advisers as part of an effort to advise Kurdish forces against Islamic militants after a request from US president Barack Obama. The US followed that up with another request for an air combat role.

Although the mission did not need parliamentary approval, Canada’s government submitted it to a vote to show consensus.

In a statement today, the White House welcomed the move and said the US was also grateful for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft provided by Canada as the coalition seeks to destroy Islamic State forces that control largest swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

Mr Harper’s government won the support of the opposition parties for air strikes in Libya in 2011 but not for this mission.

But opposition New Democrat leader Thomas Mulcair said the Conservatives were plunging Canada into a prolonged war without a credible plan to help victims of Islamic State terror.

Canada’s former Liberal government refused a request to send troops when the US invaded Iraq in 2003, straining ties between the two neighbours. Canada then stepped up its Afghanistan mission.

Mr Harper formally ended Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan in 2011. The mission cost 157 soldiers their lives since 2002, shocking Canadians unaccustomed to seeing their troops die in battle.

Published: Wednesday 8th October 2014 by The News Editor

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