Canada’s House of Commons has accepted the Conservative government’s arguments that extending the mission against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS) and expanding air raids to include Syria is morally justified and urgent.
Members of Parliament voted 142-129 to extend the mission for another year and begin bombing ISIL positions in Syria.
Members of the opposition had said they were worried that attacking ISIL targets in Syria could inadvertently bolster the government of President Bashar Al-Assad.
Al-Assad’s forces have been fighting a number of rebel groups – including ISIL and its affiliates – who have been trying to overthrow him.
According to Canadian analysts, the military could begin runs against targets in Syria before the end of the week.
The vote also allows for some 69 military experts and advisors to remain in northern Iraq to train anti-ISIL forces.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said that ISIL poses a threat to Canada.
“We cannot stand on the sidelines while ISIL continues to promote terrorism in Canada as well as against our allies and partners, nor can we allow ISIL to have a safe haven in Syria,” he said in a statement after the vote.
Canada’s participation (of military personnel to train Kurdish anti-ISIL forces) in the coalition was initially for six months and was meant to expire in April.
In October, Canadian fighter jets based in Kuwait joined Jordan, the UAE, the US and other members of the coalition in air raids against ISIL positions in Iraq.
Canada’s military anti-ISIL contribution included six CF-18 fighter jets, one CC-150 Polaris air-to-air refuelling aircraft, and two CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft.