Canada’s new leader-in-waiting says he intends to follow through on his campaign promise to pull the country out of the U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIS militants in Syria and Iraq.
“He understands the commitments I’ve made around ending the combat mission,” Trudeau told reporters Tuesday, without giving a time frame for when Canada’s airstrikes would stop.
Trudeau is expected to take office in the coming weeks, replacing Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who sent Canadian warplanes to carry out airstrikes against ISIS.
Canada’s bombing raids started hitting the Islamic extremist group’s positions in Iraq in November 2014 and expanded into Syria in April.
As of last week, Canada’s six Hornet fighters in the region had flown 1,046 sorties in the anti-ISIS operation, according to the military, which didn’t specify how many of the flights involved airstrikes. Other aircraft have conducted hundreds of refueling and reconnaissance missions.
Canada to ‘engage in a responsible way’
Trudeau said Tuesday that Canada would remain “a strong member of the coalition” against ISIS but would “engage in a responsible way.”
His party wants to provide more humanitarian aid in Iraq and Syria and for the Canadian military to take part in training rather than bombing missions.
The White House statement on the phone call between Obama and Trudeau didn’t mention the Canadian leader’s intention to withdraw from the air campaign. It said the two leaders “committed to strengthening the countries’ joint efforts” on combating terrorism and other issues.
Other nations that have taken part in the U.S.-led coalition’s airstrikes against ISIS include Australia, France and Britain as well as Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
As of early October, the coalition had carried out more than 7,000 strikes, nearly two-thirds of them in Iraq, according to the Pentagon. The U.S. military has conducted close to 80% of all the strikes.