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Tom Lawson: Canada's role in ISIS fight to be announced soon

09/30/2014 12:29 EDT | Updated 11/30/2014 05:59 EST
Chief of Defence Staff Tom Lawson says Canadians should soon hear from the government about a future military role in the battle against fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS.

Canada's top soldier spoke briefly to reporters after leaving a cabinet meeting in the Centre Block of Parliament Hill Tuesday morning.

Lawson, Canadian Security Intelligence Service spy chief Richard Fadden and Christine Hogan, the prime minister's foreign and defence policy adviser, were all spotted leaving the cabinet meeting at which ministers were to debate whether to send CF-18 jets to Iraq to join the U.S. in the fight against ISIS.

Lawson wouldn't say what he had advised the government or what they decided, telling reporters to "look to the government for our leadership on that."

As of late last week, the Canadian Forces have completed 25 flights to Iraq, delivering more than 680,000 kilograms of military supplies.

Canada has also deployed 69 special advisers to assist Kurdish Peshmerga fighters defend against ISIS.

CF-18s 'pretty good'

Conservative MP Gordon O'Connor, a retired brigadier general who was minister of national defence from 2006 to 2007, said if ISIS is a threat, then Canada has to contribute whatever it can.

"Whatever's the most effective contribution and there's a whole range of things," O'Connor said.

"The Kurds are in the middle of the fight, so they want as much help as they can."

Asked whether Canada's CF-18s are too old to be of assistance, O'Connor said that "compared to people on the ground who have nothing, they're pretty good."

The subject of ISIS and assistance for Iraq is likely to come up as U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson spends two days in Ottawa meeting officials.

Johnson is meeting with a number of ministers, including Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.

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