Canadian military aircraft have conducted a first airstrike inside Syria, pounding what is said to be an ISIL target close to the headquarters of the Takfiri group in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa.
The aerial attack was conducted by two Canadian CF-18 Hornet fighter jets, with precision guided munitions. The target was said to be a former Syrian military installation near Raqqa, which lies 440 kilometers (273 miles) northeast of the Syrian capital, Damascus, and which had been taken over by ISIL extremists.
A total of 10 coalition aircraft, including six from the United States, were involved in the strike, according to Canada’s Department of National Defense.
“The CAF’s first airstrike against ISIL in Syria has been successfully completed,” Canada’s Chief of the Defense Staff General Tom Lawson said.
“Canada is helping to ensure that ISIL has no safe haven,” Defense Minister Jason Kenney claimed via Twitter on Wednesday.
“This first airstrike under the expanded mandate demonstrates our government’s firm resolve to tackle the threat of terrorism against Canada and to promote international security and stability,” he said in a statement.
Canada’s mission against ISIL also includes two surveillance planes, an aerial refueller and 69 special forces soldiers, who are training and helping Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters push back ISIL terrorists.
Vote on Syria mission
Canadian members of parliament voted 142 to 129 last week to extend their country’s military campaign against ISIL in Iraq and expand the mission to Syria. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government estimates the mission will cost Canadians more than half a billion dollars by March 2016.
According to a Forum Research poll, a majority of Canadians oppose Ottawa’s decision to expand Canadian air strikes against ISIL militants in Iraq to include targets in Syria.
Some 55 percent of respondents to a March 31 telephone survey opposed the Syria air strikes, while only 39 percent of the participants expressed approval for the broader mission.
Since September 2014, the US along with its regional allies has been conducting airstrikes against the ISIL inside Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate. This is while many of the countries joining the coalition, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been the staunch supporters of the Takfiri elements fighting against the Syrian government.
The airstrikes by the US and its allies are an extension of the US-led aerial campaign against what are said to be ISIL positions in Iraq, which started in August 2014.
The ISIL terrorists currently control swathes of territory across Syria and Iraq. They have committed terrible atrocities in both countries, including mass executions and beheading of local residents as well as foreign nationals.