Canada’s parliament has approved to expand the country’s current military mission in Iraq to target Takfiri ISIL terrorists in neighboring Syria.
The motion, ratified by 142 to 129 votes on Monday night, also extended the Iraq mission – which was due to expire on April 7 this year – until March 30, 2016.
The measure, which allows Canadian fighter jets to enter Syria and strike ISIL targets, is neither authorized by the United Nations, nor a NATO mission.
Canada will be the second NATO member state, after the United States, to carry out airstrikes in Syria along with non-NATO members Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
Speaking in the parliament on Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended the move, saying, “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.”
“As a result of ISIL’s specific threats against Canada and Canadians, our government has worked closely for the past six months as part of a broad international coalition, including our closest allies, to help degrade and disrupt ISIL’s ability to inflict harm,” Harper claimed.
This is while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has recently slammed the so-called US-led coalition purportedly targeting ISIL.
“It is possible that some of these countries don’t want ISIL expansion in Syria and Iraq, but they apparently don’t want to do away with the ISIL. They want to use this terrorist structure for threatening and blackmailing other countries,” Interfax news agency quoted Assad as saying on Thursday.
Noting that a “serious anti-terrorist operation” has not started yet, Assad said, “In terms of politics, an anti-terrorist coalition cannot consist of the countries that support terrorism.”
Since September 2014, the US along with its regional allies has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be ISIL positions inside Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate. This is while many of the countries joining the so-called anti-terror coalition, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been the staunch supporters of the Takfiri elements fighting the Syrian government.
The airstrikes by the US and its allies are an extension of the US-led aerial campaign against purported ISIL positions in Iraq, which started in August 2014.
The ISIL terrorists currently control swathes of territory across Syria and Iraq. They have committed terrible atrocities in both countries, including mass executions and beheading of local residents as well as foreign nationals.