Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian CF-18 Jets Bomb Targets in Syria for the First Time: Kenney

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian CF-18 Jets Bomb Targets in Syria for the First Time: Kenney

Article excerpt

Canadian jets hit first targets in Syria

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OTTAWA - Canadian warplanes have bombed their first targets in Syria, Defence Minister Jason Kenney announced online late Wednesday.

The milestone event came out via the minister's Twitter account and even seemed to get out ahead of the military, which had not posted news of the strike on its website before it hit social media.

Kenney says on Twitter that two CF-18s struck an ISIL garrison in Ar-Raqqah, which is about 160 kilometres east of the embattled city of Aleppo.

It is nominally considered the capital of the extremist organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and has been on the receiving end of American air strikes in the past.

Kenney provided no other details, other than to say Canada's role in Syria is to help ensure the group has no safe haven.

A press release issued by National Defence late Wednesday said the Canadian jets were part of a larger formation of 10 coalition aircraft, including six U.S. warplanes. The nationality of the two remaining aircraft was not disclosed.

Since last September, only the U.S. and at least three Persian Gulf countries had been bombing Syria, which has been riven by a brutal four-year-long civil war. None of Canada's Commonwealth allies, including Britain and Australia, are following suit.

The Defence Department statement also said that even though Wednesday's bombing was the first airstrike in Syria since the mission expansion, it was not the first air sortie and the previous over flights helped pilots assess the new area.

"Three previous sorties have taken place over Syria since the Government expanded the CAF's participation in the international coalition against ISIL," said the statement.

The air force says all fighter-bombers have returned safely to base.

After an acrimonious public debate, the House of Commons last week approved a year-long extension to Canada's combat mission and the expansion of airstrikes into Syria. …

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