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Tue 24 Mar 2015 11:52 AM

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Canada to extend bombing campaign against ISIL

Prime Minister Stephen Harper intends to extend its 6-month military mission by another year to April 2016

Canada to extend bombing campaign against ISIL
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper with US President Barack Obama.

Canada plans to
expand its mission against ISIL militants by sending fighter bombers to attack
targets in Syria as well as Iraq, two well-placed political sources said on
Monday.

The expansion
means Canada is set to become only the second nation after the United States to
bomb the militants in Syria.

Prime Minister
Stephen Harper will formally announce the plan at 10 am eastern time (1400 GMT)
on Tuesday, the sources said. He will also announce that Canada intends to
extend its six-month military mission by another year to April 2016.

Canada has
around 70 special forces troops operating in northern Iraq and has also
provided six jets to take part in US-led bombing missions against ISIL in Iraq.

Harper, whose
right-of-centre Conservatives face an election in October, has taken a strong
line on ISIL, saying the movement poses a fundamental threat to Canada.

Harper will put
his plans to a vote by legislators which is guaranteed to win approval, since
the Conservatives have a majority in the House of Commons.

Extending the
mission to Syria is politically divisive, since critics say this means bombing
attacks will need the approval of President Bashar Al Assad.

The
left-leaning New Democrats - Canada's main opposition party - say they will
vote against the proposed expansion of the mission. The centrist Liberals, who
polls show have a chance of winning power in October, have yet to make their
position clear.

Harper portrays
both parties as weak in the fight against terror. An Ipsos Reid poll for Global
Television on Monday showed that 66 percent of Canadians backed extending the
mission for another year.

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