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Thursday, December 9th, 2021

ISIS fight: 6-month maximum attached to Canada's air combat offer

BB7ghBHSukhjeevan Sharma, INVC, Canada,

Canada is offering a six-month air combat mission, but no ground troops, to fight Islamic jihadists in the Mideast, according to a motion tabled in the House of Commons today. Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the House of Commons that Canada's contribution will include one air-to-air refuelling aircraft, two Aurora surveillance aircraft and the necessary air crews and support personnel.He also said Canada is extending the deployment of up to 69 military advisers assisting security forces in Iraq, of which 26 are on the ground.Harper pledged to strike ISIS "where – and only where – Canada has the clear support of the government of that country." That doesn't include Syria right now, he said, but Canada would expand its airstrikes to include Syria if that changes. The motion tabled by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird calls for MPs to support contributing "Canadian military assets ... including airstrike capability for a period of up to six months."It also notes "that the government of Canada will not deploy troops in ground combat operations."Debate to be held on MondayA debate and vote on the motion are expected to follow Monday.Harper's statement will be followed by responses from Opposition NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. Insurgents calling themselves the Islamic State have swept into northern Iraq and parts of Syria, conducting a brutal campaign against religious minorities and other residents of the region. ISIS, as the fighters are also known, has attracted foreign fighters to their cause, including Canadians.Canada is already contributing humanitarian aid to people fleeing the fighting and airlifts of munitions to Iraqi and Kurdish forces battling ISIS fighters. Canada sent an initial deployment of military advisers to Iraq last month as part of a 30-day mission.Government House leader Peter Van Loan will likely need to secure the unanimous consent of the House to proceed to a vote on Monday evening."The prime minister's statement will clearly outline how Canada will continue to contribute, along with dozens of other countries, to the fight against these terrorists," Harper's spokesman Jason MacDonald said in a statement Thursday evening. "Specifically, his statement will outline Canada's military contribution to the counterterrorism operation, as well as our ongoing humanitarian support."Mulcair was critical of Harper for not outlining his plan sooner, while Trudeau said the prime minister's unwillingness to offer Canadians details of the combat mission was "troubling."Harper said in the Commons this week that the ISIS Islamic militants represent a direct threat not only to the Middle East, but also Canada. An audio recording from ISIS last month urged Muslims to kill "disbelievers" in countries, including Canada, supporting the U.S.-led combat mission.

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