Canadian lawmakers voted Monday to extend a campaign of airstrikes against the so-called ’Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) takfiri group and for the first time strike at them in Syria as well as in Iraq.
Canadian lawmakers voted Monday to extend a campaign of airstrikes against the so-called 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL) takfiri group and for the first time strike at them in Syria as well as in Iraq.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives, wielding a majority in the House of Commons, pushed through a motion on enlarging the mission in a vote 142 to 129, despite opposition parties' vigorous objections.
Harper has defended the need for sorties into Syria, saying the ISIL group "must cease to have any safe haven in Syria."
He pointed to its movement of heavy equipment across the Iraqi border into Syria, and noted that ISIL fighters have threatened Canada in propaganda videos.
Canada first joined the US-led airstrikes on the ISIL group in November, where at least six Canadians have died over the last two years fighting alongside extremists in Syria and Iraq.
Opposition parties, however, warned that airstrikes against the IS group in Syria may implicitly aid Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and embroil Canada in a regional conflict that could drag on for decades.
New Democratic Party Leader Thomas Mulcair decried the move "expanding a misguided war in Iraq to a dangerous new phase in Syria."
"This is simply not Canada's war to fight," he said.
Canada will become the first NATO country, aside from the U.S., to strike inside Syria. And without official NATO backing or a mandate from the United Nations, the legality of the plan is called into question.