Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will announce a one-year extension of the country’s military mission against the Islamic State group in an effort to include airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria, a government official said Monday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Harper will make the announcement in Parliament on Tuesday. The Canadian leader recently said that he would provide more details about extending and expanding the country’s anti-ISIS mission, which is due to expire in April, sometime this week, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Canada, whose airstrikes have been limited to ISIS targets in Iraq so far, will become the second NATO country after the U.S. to conduct airstrikes in Syria. Other countries that have conducted airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria include Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
Canada’s anti-ISIS mission includes six CF-18 fighter jets, a refueling tanker aircraft, two surveillance planes and one airlift aircraft. While nearly 600 Canadian airmen and airwomen are based in Kuwait, 69 special forces soldiers have been training Kurdish peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq, the AP reported.
Although the Canadian government will submit the plans to a vote by legislators, the mission is guaranteed to win parliamentary approval as Harper's Conservative Party has a majority in the Parliament. While the left-leaning New Democrats, the country’s main opposition party, said they will vote against the proposed expansion of the mission, the centrist Liberals are yet to comment on their stance, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, a poll conducted by Canada’s Global News has shown that about two-thirds of Canadians are in favor of extending the military mission against ISIS. Sixty-six percent of Canadians surveyed said they agreed with the government’s intent to extend the anti-ISIS mission.
The U.S. Central Command (CentCom) announced Monday that the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS conducted 14 airstrikes in Syria and Iraq on Sunday, hitting the group’s tactical units, fighting positions, vehicles and machinery.
“On March 22, Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using fighter and bomber aircraft to conduct eight airstrikes. Separately in Iraq, Coalition military forces conducted six airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, using fighter aircraft against ISIL terrorists,” CentCom said in the statement.