Canada sticking to plan to withdraw jets from ISIS mission: PM

Mon Nov 16, 2015 11:26am EST
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By David Ljunggren

BELEK, Turkey (Reuters) - Canada will stick to a decision to withdraw its fighter jets from a mission against Islamic State militants despite last week's Paris attacks, new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.

The group, also known as ISIL, claimed responsibility for shootings and bombings that killed 129 people. The violence prompted the United States, France, Britain and others to promise more strikes against the Islamist movement.

But Trudeau, who took power in an October election promising to pull out the six jets, said Canada could contribute more effectively in other ways and was considering how it could step up an existing program to train local troops in Iraq.

Trudeau was speaking to reporters at the end of a Group of 20 summit in Turkey. None of the other leaders present had asked him to rethink the jet withdrawal, he said.

"We made a clear commitment in the campaign to stop the bombing mission by Canadian jets ... and we have the mandate to do that," he said.

Diplomats say the United States and Britain have expressed concern the Canadian withdrawal move could weaken the anti-ISIL coalition.

The six planes are still attacking targets in Iraq and Syria and Trudeau declined to say when the strikes would stop. The current mission runs out at the end of next March.

Canada also has around 70 military trainers working with Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.   Continued...

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves at the conclusion of a news conference in Ottawa, Canada November 12, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie