Canada set to cease air strikes against Isis as Justin Trudeau says Syrians ‘need our help – not our vengeance’

'The people terrorised by Isil every day don't need our vengeance, they need our help'

Canada is set to cease air strikes against Isis by the end of February but will increase its humanitarian aid contributions to the region instead.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was elected to office in November, said his government will end its bombing missions in the war-torn region by 22 February with six fighter jets being withdrawn. Canada will, however, keep two surveillance planes in the region and triple the number of soldiers training Kurdish troops in northern Iraq.

"In any mission, you need to make choices. We can't do everything. In our decision, we were guided by our desire to do what we could do best to help in the region and to do it in the right way," Mr Trudeau said during a news conference in Ottawa.

"The people terrorised by Isil every day don't need our vengeance, they need our help."

The Conservative opposition leader Rona Ambrose accused the Liberal administration of "taking a shameful step backward" from the fight against "the greatest terror threat in the world." Canadian bombing of the region began in April 2015 while the Canadian Conservatives were in power. 

The Liberal leader had pledged during his election campaign last year to end the air strikes against the so-called Islamic State. He described the decision on Monday to cease bombing as being good for achieving “short-term military and territorial gains” but not for “long-term stability for local communities”. 

In doing so, however, Mr Trudeau is going against public opinion. Two-thirds of Canadians polled recently supported or wanted to extend its support in the US-led bombing coalition, in the wake of extremist attacks in Jakarta and in Bukina Faso that killed seven Canadians in January. 

The Liberal government will also contribute more than $1.6bn over three years to bolster security, stabilization and humanitarian aid to the region, including increasing counterterrorism efforts in neighbouring Lebanon and Jordan.

The Prime Minister added: “We know Canada is stronger, much stronger, than the threat posed by a murderous gang of thugs who are terrorizing some of the most vulnerable people on Earth.

"Call us old-fashioned, but we think that we ought to avoid doing precisely what our enemies want us to do. They want us to elevate them, to give in to fear, to indulge in hatred, to eye one another with suspicion and to take leave of our faculties.”

President Barack Obama "welcomed Canada's current and new contributions to coalition efforts and highlighted Canada's leadership in the coalition," the White House said in a statement.

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