Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Canada in Iraq: RCAF Strikes 3 ISIS Positions near Ramadi

Written by The Associated Press

Two Canadian fighter jets successfully struck three Islamic State fighting positions near the Iraqi city of Ramadi on Tuesday, according to the Department of Defence.

The CF-18 Hornets struck the ISIS positions with precision-guided munitions during two separate airstrikes, the department said in a statement.

The Canadian aircraft are part taking part in the U.S.-led coalition campaign against ISIS. The airstrikes are being conducted in support of Iraqi security forces. 
A Royal Canadian Air Force Air Weapon Systems Technician, deployed as part of Air Task Force – Iraq, prepares munitions for loading to a CF-188 Hornet, at the Camp Patrice Vincent flight line in Kuwait, during Operation IMPACT on August 1, 2015. Photo: CAF Combat Camera - OP IMPACT KW02-2015-0163-001
Tuesday's airstrikes are the second round involving Canadian jets since the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris killed at least 129 people and wounded at least 350 others. ISIS has claimed responsibility for Friday's attacks in the French capital. The extremist group also claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings in Beirut, which killed 43 people the day before.

After the terror attacks, many questioned whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would keep his election campaign promise to withdraw the jets before the end of the government’s previously set commitment of March 2016.

Trudeau reiterated his position on Monday, stating that Canada will focus its efforts on training local troops to fight ISIS, instead of continuing to participate in the air campaign. He added that Canada will increase the number of special trainers it has in Iraq, up from the current number of 69.

The prime minister's announcement came as French President Francois Hollande and U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to ramp up the assault against ISIS.

On Monday, Hollande spoke during a special session of Parliament, where he said the country was at war.

During the speech, he asked French lawmakers to vote on a bill extending the state of emergency for three months, and asked for changes to the constitution to help "destroy terrorism."

France has launched more airstrikes in the wake of the violence that rippled across Paris last Friday. Hollande said Monday that he would be meeting with Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin later this month to discuss how to combat ISIS.

Meanwhile, Obama acknowledged Monday that the attacks in Paris represented a "sickening setback," but said he won't commit to a large-scale presence of U.S. troops on the ground. He said sending in a large military presence would result in a permanent occupation in Syria and Iraq.

Currently, Canada has contributed six CF-18 Hornet fighter jets, two Aurora surveillance planes and approximately 600 Canadian Armed Forces personnel to the coalition.