WATCH ABOVE: The first Canadian jets took off from Alberta to help in the fight against ISIS in Iraq. They and the team supporting them will operate under tight security, especially in the wake of Monday’s attack in Quebec. Reid Feist reports from Cold Lake, Alta., and Mike Armstrong reports from Kuwait City.
EDMONTON — Canadian fighter jets have left the Cold Lake military base in Alberta to join an international combat mission against Islamic State extremists in Iraq.
The six CF-18s and two spares are heading to Kuwait, which will serve as Canada’s base of operations.
About 600 personnel — along with the jets, two surveillance planes and an aerial tanker — are to be based in Kuwait.
“Our government is concerned that, if left unchecked, the threat posed by ISIL will only continue to grow, contributing to the further destabilization of the middle east,” said federal Defence Minister Rob Nicholson from CFB Cold Lake.
“We are deeply concerned that these radical militants will inspire terrorists that will threaten Canada here and at home.”
The deployment is part of ‘Operation IMPACT’ — the multinational, U.S.-led force that will be launching air strikes on ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq.
As part of the mission, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the House of Commons that six CF-18 fighter jets will come from the Canadian Forces Base in Cold Lake.
A refuelling plane and two surveillance planes will also be deployed from bases in Ontario and Nova Scotia.
“Our government has a duty to protect Canadians,” said Nicholson, “and to stand firm with our allies in opposition to the unspeakable atrocities being carried out by ISIL.”
The Conservative government previously announced that Canada’s jets and planes will be based in Kuwait.
WATCH: Canadian Forces setting up military base in Kuwait preparing to engage ISIS
Some of the 600 Canadian Forces personnel taking part in the combat mission left last week for what is already a controversial mission.
After two days of debate earlier this month, the motion to launch a combat mission against ISIS passed 157-134 in the House of Commons. Some 155 Conservatives voted in favour of the motion, with the help of Independent MP Brent Rathgeber and Green MP Bruce Hyer.
Both the NDP and Liberals voted against the mission. They believe there are other options and that air strikes invariably lead to boots on the ground.
Defence Minister Rob Nicholson countered, saying that Canada faces a clear and present danger from ISIS; and while it’s never a good time to war, in this case the necessity outweighs the risk.
On Tuesday, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair asked Harper to address the House of Commons regarding the murder of 53-year-old Canadian soldier Patrice Vincent, who was attacked along with another Canadian Forces member in what authorities are calling a deliberate act from a man with links to “terrorist ideology.”
With files from The Canadian Press and Fletcher Kent, Global News