In the immediate aftermath of Friday’s attacks in Paris, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seemed reluctant to say whether he’d be changing course on his government’s plan to pull Canadian fighter jets out of the skies over Syria and Iraq. Asked if the attacks gave him pause, Trudeau replied that “it is still early moments.”
On Monday morning, however, he was unequivocal during a nearly 40-minute press conference in Turkey, where he was attending a G20 summit: Canada will end the bombing mission before March 30, 2016.
In its place, the Canadian government has pledged to increase the resources dedicated to training initiatives in Iraq and provide increased humanitarian aid. According to Trudeau, that plan offers Canada’s “greatest benefit” to the fight against the Islamic State (IS). In spite of repeated questions from reporters, Trudeau did not say precisely why he believes Canada’s current bombing campaign should come to an end.
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What do our allies think about this?
Trudeau said on Monday that none of Canada’s G20 allies have requested that Canadian warplanes remain involved in the bombing campaign following the Paris attacks.
The U.S. has known of Canada’s plans to withdraw for weeks. Trudeau informed President Barack Obama of his government’s plans during a phone call made shortly after he took office.
“(Obama) understands the commitments I’ve made around ending the combat mission,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa following that conversation.
Devin Nunes, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, then told The Guardian newspaper that “Canada’s withdrawal from the bombing campaign won’t have a large effect on (U.S.) military operations against ISIS.”
Are Canadian planes still dropping bombs?
Yes. According to the Defence department, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting position southeast of Haditha, Iraq, using precision-guided munitions on Sunday.
WATCH ABOVE: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government will follow through on its election campaign commitment to withdraw its six CF-18 fighter jets from the U.S.-led coalition mission attacking targets in Iraq and Syria some time before Canada’s March 2016 commitment expires
How much has Canada contributed to the aerial campaign to date?
Between the start of the Canadian involvement in the bombing campaign last October and Saturday, Nov. 14, the Department of National Defence reports that Canada’s planes completed 1,747 operational flights or “sorties.”
Of those, 1,119 were flights by CF-188 Hornet fighters (these drop the bombs, although a significant portion of those flights may not have resulted in any bombs dropped).A further 305 flights have been made by a CC-150T Polaris aerial refueller, delivering more than 18 million pounds of fuel to coalition aircraft.Canada’s CP-140 Aurora aircraft in the region has conducted 323 reconnaissance missions.
To put this in perspective, the U.S. Department of Defense reports that as of Nov. 14, the total number of operational flights by all coalition aircraft stood at 57,301. That means Canada’s contribution represents just over 3 per cent of all flights.
What are other allies doing?
Other countries conducting bombing operations against IS include the United States, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Britain is currently involved in bombing raids against IS targets in Iraq, but the British parliament rejected a vote to extend airstrikes to Syria.
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The anti-IS coalition is not a NATO mission. Several of Canada’s NATO allies — including Germany, Spain, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic — have chosen not to become involved in bombing operations, but are providing other forms of support.
What’s all this talk about Article 5?
Some have speculated France will invoke the NATO Treaty’s Article 5, a clause that requires all members to defend a member under attack. This hasn’t happened yet, and any invocation of Article 5 would require a meeting of the alliance’s North Atlantic Council.
If France does invoke it, that wouldn’t necessarily mean Canada has to continue dropping bombs. Article 5 does not require member states to engage militarily, only that they provide the form of assistance they deem most appropriate.