1 Canada to send cargo planes, 30 military personnel to shuttle weapons to Kurdish forces in Iraq
OTTAWA — Canada is committing two cargo planes to move military supplies into northern Iraq as part of the international effort to bolster Kurdish forces in the embattled region.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says a CC-177 Globemaster and a CC-130J Hercules transport will begin shuttling arms provided by allies to the Iraqi city of Irbil over the next few days.
The flights, which include some 30 Canadian Forces personnel, will continue as long as there is equipment and supplies to move.
The U.S. and France are already sending weapons, while Britain has indicated it’s also prepared to help arm the Kurdish forces fighting militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, or ISIS.
“This support, which will be provided in close co-ordination with our allies, will enable Kurdish forces to provide effective protection to Iraqis faced with the barbarous attacks of [ISIS],” Harper said in a statement.
“Canada will not stand idly by while ISIL continues its murder of innocent civilians and religious minorities. We continue to monitor the situation in Iraq and are prepared to provide further assistance.”
The Al-Qaeda splinter group’s hardline militants have already seized large parts of northern Iraq.
The military aircraft are in addition to the $5 million in humanitarian aid committed last weekend by the Conservative government.
Nouri Al-Malki, the embattled prime minister of Iraq, announced Thursday that he was stepping aside and will accept the candidacy of rival Haider Al-Abadi, who was nominated last week by the Iraqi president to form a government.
While Harper did not address Al-Malki’s departure directly, he did say that political stability is key to revolving the crisis.
“We call on Iraq’s leadership to take immediate steps to counter [ISIS] and the terrorists that operate under that banner,” Harper said.
“We stand ready to support a new Iraqi government that addresses the needs of all Iraqis, regardless of ethnic origin or religious belief.”
The announcement came just as the Department of National Defence revealed its final flight of non-lethal military aid to Ukraine was preparing to depart. Over the last week, the air force has been shuttling spare body armour, helmets, medical kits, tents and surveillance equipment to forces battling pro-Russian separatists in that region.
It’s not the first time Canada’s air force has been called upon for its moving capacity.
Canada helped move French troops and gear to the west African country of Mali in early 2013 after al-Qaida-affiliated rebels overran the northern portion of that country.
Those flights went on for over several weeks.
(LINK: news.nationalpost.com/2014/08/15/canada-to-send-cargo-planes )