ISIS airstrikes by Canada to end by Feb. 22, training forces to triple
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will cease all coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by Feb. 22, while it beefs up its military efforts, including the number of special forces deployed on the ground to train Iraqi forces for the next two years.
Interim Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose said this is a “step backward.”
“It is important to understand that while airstrike operations can be very useful to achieve short-term military and territorial gains, they do not on their own achieve long-term stability for local communities,” Trudeau said during an announcement in Ottawa on Monday where he was accompanied by National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion and the Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau.
“Canadians learned this lesson first-hand during a very difficult decade in Afghanistan, where our forces became expert military trainers renowned around the world.”
Trudeau said while Canada will pull its six fighter jets from the bombing mission, it will also triple, from 69, the number of Canadian Forces members helping train local ground troops to fight ISIS in northern Iraq. It will also increase by 230 the 600 Canadian Armed Forces members deployed as part coalition mission.
Canada’s new contribution to the global fight against ISIS will also include:
- Maintaining aircrew and support personnel for one CC-150 Polaris aerial refuelling aircraft and up to two CP-140 Aurora aerial surveillance aircraft.
- $840 million in humanitarian assistance over three years.
- $270 million over three years to “build local capacity” in Jordan and Lebanon, where there are a large number of refugees.
- An increased diplomatic presence in the region.
In a written statement, Ambrose called Canada’s withdrawal from the bombing mission against ISIS a “step backward for Canada.”
“Today, in his first major foreign policy decision, the prime minister has shown that Canada is not ‘back.’ In fact, this prime minister is taking a shameful step backward from our proud traditions by pulling our CF-18s and Canada out of a combat role against the greatest terror threat in the world,” she said in the statement.
Ambrose said increasing the number of special forces in a training capacity and the additional humanitarian assistance “are only designed to distract Canadians from the withdrawal of our CF-18s.” (Source: CBC News)