US & Canada

Canada's parliament approves anti-Islamic State air strikes

Canadian PM Stephen Harper in parliament, Ottawa, 07 Oct 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Stephen Harper's parliamentary majority meant he was confident of winning the vote

The Canadian parliament has voted to authorise the country's armed forces to join US-led air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq.

The vote allows air strikes for up to six months, but rules out the use of ground troops.

Canada will provide up to six CF-18 fighter planes, as well as surveillance and refuelling aircraft and about 600 personnel.

Canada is one of a number of countries joining the US-led campaign against IS.

The vote passed by 157 votes to 134 to back Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the issue.

"If left unchecked this terrorist organisation will grow and grow quickly. They have already voiced their local and international terrorist intentions and identified Canada as a potential target," said Mr Harper, a Conservative.

Canada has more than two dozen military advisers already in Iraq, but Mr Harper has ruled out any ground troops being deployed there.

Canadian air strikes on any targets in Syria are at present not envisaged until they have the full support of the beleaguered government in Damascus.

The Canadian announcement comes just days after a similar pledge from Australia to join the US-led coalition.

There has also been support from several European countries - including the UK, France and the Netherlands - and some Gulf states including Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Despite the opposition from some political parties, opinion polls suggest Canadians broadly support a limited combat role for Canada - with one showing 64% of people backing such a plan.