Harper calls for Canadian airstrikes in Syria

He proposed a one-year extension of Canada's military mission.

By Ed Adamczyk
Canadian Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. File Photo by Heinz Ruckemann/UPI.
Canadian Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. File Photo by Heinz Ruckemann/UPI. | License Photo

OTTAWA, March 24 (UPI) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Parliament Tuesday that Canada would expand its mission against the Islamic States with airstrikes in Syria.

Significantly, he told the House of Commons in Ottawa he would not seek the consent of the Syrian government, prior requirement for Canadian involvement being consent from the country where mission occur, but would "work closely with our American and other allies who have already been carrying out such operations."


Canadian airstrikes against IS targets have been limited to Iraq thus far.

"The so-called caliphate's capital is in Syria," he said, a reference to the city of Raqqa. "(IS) must cease to have any safe haven in Syria."

Harper proposed a one-year extension of the six-month military mission.

He added that Canada's involvement has not been confined to the battlefield.

"We have also been helping to support more than 200,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq, with food, water, shelter and protection. There is no either/or here between military action and humanitarian aid. The situation desperately needs both and Canada has been vigorously providing both."

Although the fight against IS has strong public support in Canada, opposition leaders were critical of the declaration by Harper, a Conservative Party member. Official opposition leader Tom Mulcair of the New Democratic Party was critical in House of Commons comments, saying Canada "has no place in this war," adding, "Nothing I heard today has convinced me that the Conservatives are taking this duty with the seriousness that it deserves. The prime minister hasn't earned that trust, because he misled Canadians from the start."


Mulcair and Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau referred to suggestions Harper's government has been dishonest about Canada's role in the war thus far. Trudeau expressed concern that Canada's involvement could result in Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad "consolidating his grip on power," adding "This government has been steadily drawing Canada deeper into a war in Iraq. It now wants to expand that war into Syria."

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