The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has successfully launched its first airstrike against the Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria.
Two Canadian CF-18 Hornets launched an airstrike against an IS garrison near the group’s de facto capital, Ar-Raqqah, using precision-guided munitions.
The air strike followed a planning and coordination process with coalition partners. It is the first air assault since the Canadian Government introduced a motion in the House of Commons to extend and expand the country’s contribution to the US-led coalition against the terrorist group. This involved ten coalition aircraft, including six fighters from the US.
Canadian Defence Minister Jason Kenney said: "This first airstrike under the expanded mandate demonstrates our government’s firm resolve to tackle the threat of terrorism against Canada and to promote international security and stability.
"ISIL is a genocidal terrorist organisation and we will deny them safe haven in the region.
"Canada is playing an important role in degrading ISIL’s capabilities in collaboration with the US-led international coalition."
After the government extended CAF’s participation in the international efforts to support the Iraqi security forces until 30 March 2016, the Canadian personnel also conducted three air sorties over Syria that provided valuable opportunities to assess new areas of operation.
As part of Operation Impact, Canada has already deployed up to 69 special operations forces personnel to advise and assist Iraqi forces in northern Iraq, alongside a key aerial enabler force package comprising 280 personnel, one CC-150 Polaris aerial refuelling, and up to two CP-140 Aurora aerial surveillance aircraft.
In addition, a strike force package featuring 320 aircrew and other personnel, and up to six CF-188 Hornet fighters has been sent to target ISIL, which is estimated to have between 20,000 and 30,000 fighters across Iraq and Syria, of which 15,000 are foreign recruits.
The Air Task Force-Iraq launched first airstrike on IS targets in Iraq in November 2014, and has conducted 737 sorties as of 6 April.