Canada to end bombing missions in Iraq and Syria

Mon Feb 8, 2016 4:22pm EST
 
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday Canada would pull out six jets that have been bombing targets in Iraq and Syria, ending a controversial combat role in the fight against Islamic State.

Trudeau's Liberals won an election last October promising to withdraw the jets but came under pressure from allies who feared the decision could weaken efforts to combat the militant group. Bombing began in November 2014 under the previous Conservative government.

"We can't do everything .. we were guided by our desire to do what we could do best to help in the region and to do it in the right way," Trudeau told a news conference.

"The people terrorized by (Islamic State) every day don't need our vengeance, they need our help."

Canada will end its bombing missions by Feb. 22 but keep two surveillance planes in the region as well as refueling aircraft, and triple the number of soldiers training Kurdish troops in northern Iraq to about 200.

Officials in the United States welcomed the announcement, which came after sustained diplomatic pressure from major allies to persuade Canada to do as much as possible.

"I'm confident we are going to continue to have discussions with the Canadians about additional steps they can take to further enhance our counter-ISIL efforts," said White House spokesman John Earnest.

He said Trudeau had talked to Obama on Monday. The two will meet in Washington next month.   Continued...

 
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a news conference in Ottawa, Canada, February 8, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie