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Canadian warplanes could drop bombs in Syria within days

A Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet breaks away after refueling with a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, Thursday,  Oct. 30, 2014 over Iraq. .
A Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet breaks away after refueling with a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, Thursday,  Oct. 30, 2014 over Iraq. . Handout - Staff Sgt. Perry Aston / The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – The commander of Canada’s combat operations in the Middle East says they’re in the final stages of preparing to launch strikes into Syria and bombs could be falling on Islamic State positions within days.

READ MORE: Canada poised to begin airstrikes in Syria

Brig.-Gen. Dan Constable, speaking by conference call from Kuwait, says the country’s allies are “excited” that the CF-18s will expand their operations beyond Iraq, where they have carrying out missions for six months.

The U.S. and at least three Persian Gulf allies have been carrying out strikes against extremist targets in Syria, which has been engaged in a four-year-long, brutal civil war, since last September.

He says pilots are being briefed on the new territory and reviewing the potential threats in specific areas.

Earlier this week, Parliament approved a motion that extended the country’s combat mission to the end of March 2016 and opened up the campaign to include missions in Syria, where the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant hold sway over a vast swath of territory in the eastern and northern portion on the country.

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The CF-18s have conducted six bombing missions in Iraq over the last 10 days, but none of them involved supporting the major offensive in Tikrit, where Iranian-backed Shiite militias and the Iraqis army have fought a bloody, protracted battle.