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Canada’s anti-ISIS mission will be extended, confirms Harjit Sajjan

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Global News has learned the government will extend its military mission to Iraq beyond the current mission's expiry at the end of June. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada plans to stand shoulder to shoulder with its allies. Vassy Kapelos reports – Jun 9, 2017

Operation IMPACT, Canada’s contribution to the fight against the so-called Islamic State, will be renewed by the end of this month, the defence minister has confirmed.

In an interview with The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos, Harjit Sajjan said the Canadian effort will continue into its fourth consecutive year in Iraq and Syria, but added that the shape of the mission may change.

“We’ll be there shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies, but we need to also, every year, to review the mission to be sure that we have the right assets in place … the resources need to be able to change.”

It’s unclear what specific changes might be imminent. At the moment, Canada has hundreds of troops serving as trainers for Iraqi forces, medical officers, intelligence officers, pilots, support crews and co-ordinators in coalition headquarters.

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READ MORE: Edmonton-based Royal Canadian Air Force squadron deployed to Iraq

Canada also has one CC-150 Polaris aerial refueller aircraft, a CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft and four CH-146 Griffon helicopters in the region.

Sajjan’s confirmation on Friday should come as no surprise given that the fight to stamp out ISIS in the Middle East is far from over. Last week, the commander of Canada’s joint task force in the region, Brigadier-General Daniel MacIsaac, told Global News that he fully expects the Canadian mission to last at least another year.

“I’m sure we’ll continue to be here after the 30th of June,” MacIsaac said.

Canada has been actively involved in the global coalition of countries fighting the terror group since 2014, when troops and warplanes were first dispatched to the region by the Harper Conservatives.

The mission has been formally extended numerous times since then.

The first one-year renewal happened in March 2015 (again under the Conservatives), bringing the end-date to March 2016.

Then, in early 2016, the new Liberal government made dramatic changes that terminated Canada’s bombing mission but expanded development, intelligence gathering and training work.

At the same time, Operation IMPACT was renewed for another year, until March 2017. Finally, it was extended once again over the winter to the end of this month.

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