Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Liberals keep promise to withdraw from ISIS bombing campaign

As promised during their election campaign Trudeau will withdraw its CF-18 fighter jets from the air campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
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Some Canadian planes will stay as part of the operation, including two Aurora surveillance aircraft, two transport planes, and a Polaris refuelling plane. Subsequent to the Paris attacks, there has been some pressure for the Liberals to reconsider their plans as some countries such as France are increasing their attacks. However, Liberal Defence Minister Harjit Saijan stood firm on the promise: "Myself and the government feel we need to focus on the training. If we do not get that piece right, is does not matter where one bomb drops."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised he will increase the number of group troops operating in Iraq to train more local forces. At present there are only 69 troops on the ground. The additional troops could train locals in medical aid and clearing improvised explosives, as they did in Afghanistan after their combat role there ended. Even the small number of Canadian Special Forces already in Iraq may be involved in combat.
A senior adviser to Trudeau said allies have not asked Canada to alter its position, claiming there had been no pressure on Canada to do so. In talks with various world leaders, the adviser claimed that they were satisfied with Trudeau's explanation of his position. He said the allies understood training will be a useful contribution to the mission against the Islamic State. The interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose has been urging Trudeau to immediately reverse his decision saying:"The fight against ISIS requires a strong humanitarian response, but also a military response. It's important that we remain resolute and support our allies."
A top diplomat from Iraqi Kurdistan, Fatah Bakir, head of the Department of Foreign Relations for the Kurdistan Regional Government, said he respected the Canadian decision to withdraw from the bombing, but hopes Canada will in turn provide more support "in the form of weapons, ammunition, equipment, training and capacity building." Not long ago a Canadian CC-130 Hercules that was to fly to Erbil in Kurdistan Iraq was grounded by Iraqi authorities for several days. Haken al-Zameli, head of the Iraqi central government security and defence commission, said: "The inspection committee in Baghdad International Airport has found a huge number of rifles equipped with silencers, as well as light and mid-sized weapons.” The Iraqi government demands all weapons, and other military supplies go through the central government. The U.S. wants to arm the Kurds directly. The Canadian plane was sent back to Kuwait eventually.

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