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Trudeau Says Canada Will Cease Airstrikes Against ISIS In Syria And Iraq

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that Canada will cease its airstrikes against self-proclaimed Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria by Feb. 22.

It will remain part of the coalition targeting the militants.

Canadian troops will now "focus on training and advising local security forces to take their fight directly to ISIL," according to a government statement.

Canada says it will still assist with aerial refueling and surveillance activities associated with the airstrikes.

The mission, known as Operation IMPACT, started launching combat airstrikes in Nov., 2014.

The Canadian Armed Forces say that now, "six CF-188 Hornets, along with associated aircrew and support personnel currently deployed to the region, will return to Canada in a phased approach."

Dan Karpenchuk in Toronto tells our Newscast unit that "the number of Canadian special forces trainers will be increased from 69 to more than 200."

Now, Dan says "the new mission will be put to a debate and vote in the Canadian parliament next week."

Interim Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose described the move as a "shameful step backwards," by pulling Canada "out of a combat role against the greatest terror threat in the world," CBC reports.

The Canadian government says it will contribute more than $1.6 billion Canadian (about $1.15 U.S.) over three years "towards its new approach to security, stabilization, humanitarian and development assistance in response to the crises in Iraq and Syria, and their impact on Jordan and Lebanon."

"I am extremely confident that this mission not only is better than our last mission but is the right thing to do and the right way to do it," Trudeau said as he announced the change. "Canada has many advantages, including hard-earned abilities in training local troops that we gained during ten years in Afghanistan and other theaters, where we can actually offer the best help in a different way."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.
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