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Canada conducts first airstrike in Syria

Canada conducts first airstrike in Syria
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Canada conducted its first airstrike in Syria on Wednesday, after its government voted last week to expand its mission against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and extend it for another year. 

“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," said Minister of National Defence Jason Kenney in a statement.

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The strike was conducted by two Canadian CF-18 Hornets, using precision guided munitions, against an ISIS garrison near Ar-Raqqah. A total of 10 coalition aircraft, including six from the U.S., were involved in the strike, according to Canada's Department of National Defence.

“The CAF’s first airstrike against ISIL in Syria has been successfully completed," added Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson. "Canadians can be proud of the work that their Canadian Armed Forces are doing, and the contribution they are making to coalition efforts.”

Canada began conducting airstrikes in Iraq in October and began training peshmerga fighters in September. 

Although the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands are also conducting airstrikes in Iraq, Canada is the only NATO member other than the U.S. to conduct strikes in Syria. 

Members of Parliament voted last week to support a Conservative government motion to expand Canada's mission into Syria and for another year. Most opposition members voted against the motion.

About 130 Canadians have joined ISIS, and in October, two Canadian soldiers were killed in two separate terrorist attacks.  

Kenney called ISIS a "genocidal terrorist organization."  

"ISIL is a genocidal terrorist organization and we will deny them safe haven in the region," Kenney said, using another acronym for ISIS. "Canada is playing an important role in degrading ISIL’s capabilities in collaboration with the US-led international coalition.”

Canada has conducted three previous surveillance sorties over Syria, but Wednesday's airstrike was its first in the nation. 

Canada is also supporting coalition air assets in the region with aerial refueling, as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. 

Approximately 600 Canadian troops are taking part in its mission against ISIS, including 69 special operations troops inside Iraq.