Harper to push for 1-year extension of ISIS mission, airstrikes over Syria
Published Monday, March 23, 2015 10:03PM EDT
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will outline plans for a one-year extension of the mission to Iraq on Tuesday, including the expansion to a combat role in Syria, CTV News has learned.
Harper briefed NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday in Ottawa, one day before he is expected to reveal the plan to Parliament.
Sources told CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife that Harper will table a motion in the House of Commons on Tuesday to authorize Canadian CF-18 fighter jets to fly sorties into Syria. The goal will be to stop ISIS fighters and heavy artillery from crossing from Iraq into eastern Syria.
The move would make Canada the only western nation to join the U.S. in the air war over Syria.
And like the U.S., Canada will notify Syria about airstrikes into its territory, but will not seek the approval of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad before ordering the strikes.
There are currently 600 Canadian Forces members in support roles in the region, along with six CF-18s, two Aurora patrol aircrafts and a C-150 Polaris.
There are also 69 Canadian special forces members serving as military trainers in northern Iraq – but sources told Fife they will not be part of the action into Syria.
Nor will Canada send commandos to laser guide air strikes in Syria.
The current six-month mission is set to end on April 7.
On Monday, Defence Minister Jason Kenney called ISIS a “genocidal terrorist organization” that has declared war on Canada.
“Canadians believe we should not sit on the sidelines when it comes to defending our security and international security and opposing genocide, and we have a role to play,” Kenney said.
Harper will be seeking bipartisan support for the expansion, sources told Fife.
With New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair saying his party will vote against the renewed mandate, it will depend on the Liberals to shore up Harper’s initiative. But so far they’ve been noncommittal.
“We won’t speculate until we see the details and then we’ll come forward with our response,” said Liberal defence critic Joyce Murray.
Canada will not be committing additional aircraft or personnel to the new mission in Syria, Fife reported.