Why Canada won't expand airstrikes into Syria

Foreign Minister John Baird said Canada is focused on its current airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq.

AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File
A military plane of the US led coalition flies above the Syrian town of Kobani, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. More than two months into its assault on Kobani, the Islamic State group still pours fighters and resources into trying to take the besieged Kurdish town, but the drive has been blunted. Aided by 270 U.S. airstrikes, the town’s determined Kurdish defenders appear to be gaining momentum, a potentially bruising reversal for the militants who only few weeks ago seemed unstoppable in their march to victory. )

Canada's foreign minister says his country has no plans to follow its neighbor the United States in expanding airstrikes against the Islamic State group into Syria.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday in the Gulf nation of Bahrain, Foreign Minister John Baird said Canada is focused on its current mission against the extremist group in Iraq for now.

Canadian warplanes taking part in the U.S.-led bombing campaign launched their first airstrikes against militants last month with strikes on targets in the vicinity of the Iraqi city of Fallujah.

Canada has deployed six CF-18s along with a C-150 Polaris and two CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft as its contribution to the bombing campaign against the Islamic State group, which has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria.

Meanwhile, on Saturday Syrian government forces repelled an attack by the Islamic State group on a major air base in the country's east on Saturday, in fighting that killed dozens on both sides, activists and state media said.

The base, outside the city of Deir el-Zour, has been used by the government in the past months to launch air raids on areas held by the Islamic State group bordering Iraq.

The Islamic State group is trying to capture the air base and a nearby barracks known as Brigade 137 to eliminate the main pocket of resistance in the area and provide a major morale and propaganda boost after a string of setbacks in recent weeks.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the latest attack began Saturday with a suicide car bomb at the main entrance of the Deir el-Zour air base. The rebels stormed parts of the base before a counterattack and intense air raids by government forces pushed them back, it added.

The group said that some Islamic State fighters had breathing problems in the area after government forces used chlorine gas against them.

Syrian state TV quoted an unnamed military official as saying that troops repelled attempts by "terrorists" on several areas near the city of Deir el-Zour and killed "tens of them and destroyed their vehicles and weapons."

The station later aired footage of Syrian troops standing near bodies of dead fighters it said were Islamic State group members who were killed in Deir el-Zour.

The Islamic State group began a major offensive on the air base, one of the last government-held areas in the province of Deir el-Zour, on Thursday.

The Observatory said that since Thursday, more than 150 fighters on both sides have been killed, including 51 troops and pro-government militiamen. It said at least 100 Islamic State group fighters have been killed, including two French citizens.

Activists who support the Islamic State group posted photos on social media showing two military helicopters that they claimed were captured by the jihadis.

Earlier Saturday, state news agency SANA said the government's air force was taking part in the operations at the air base, adding that they destroyed an Islamic State group convoy consisting of five armored vehicles and four pickup trucks mounted with heavy machine guns.

On Friday, Islamic State group fighters captured the strategic village of Jafra near the air base. If jihadis capture the air base and Brigade 137, they could threaten government-held areas in the provincial capital of Deir el-Zour.

In Lebanon, state-run National News Agency said a Lebanese army aircraft fired missiles Saturday on a command position of jihadi groups on the outskirts of the Lebanese border town of Arsal, inflicting casualties among them.

The attack came a day after an al-Qaida-linked group in Syria said it had killed a Lebanese soldier it was holding captive.

The Nusra Front said it shot dead Ali Bazzal on Friday night in retaliation for the Lebanese government's detention of the wives and children of militants.

Lebanese security officials this week said they have arrested a wife and child of the Islamic State group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Authorities have also arrested the wife and two children of another Sunni militant commander in Syria, Abu Ali al-Shishani.

The Nusra Front and the Islamic State group have been holding more than 20 Lebanese soldiers and policemen since August. They have so far killed four of them.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Why Canada won't expand airstrikes into Syria
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today