03/27/2015 05:21 EDT | Updated 05/27/2015 05:59 EDT

ISIL Mission: U.K. Endorses Harper's Proposal For Airstrikes In Syria

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - The Harper government's proposal to conduct air strikes over Syria against militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was praised by Britain's foreign minister Friday, as he highlighted the need to combat islamist extremism.

Philip Hammond, the U.K.'s secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, said Canada and the U.K. are working together against the radical group to challenge their radical ideology and narrative.

"I welcome Prime Minister Harper's announcement of the intention to extend the remit of Canadian armed forces so that they can take part in operations over Syria," Hammond said after meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson in Mississauga, Ont.

The Conservative government recently announced a proposal to extend the military campaign in Iraq for up to one year and give Canadian troops the authority to conduct air strikes in neighbouring Syria.

Up to 69 special forces advisers will also remain in the region to advise and assist Kurdish peshmerga forces in beating back the advance of ISIL militants.

The New Democrats are strongly opposed to the proposal and want Canadian soldiers pulled from the region immediately. The Liberals suggest Canadians could remain in the area but only to train existing security forces.

Both parties see the expansion into Syria as expressly supporting controversial Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Conservatives argue that ISIL is using parts of Syria as a base for fighters and equipment. Their proposal to expand Canada's mission in the region is expected to pass next week as the Tories have a majority in the House of Commons.

Hammond pointed out that his own government had sought to carry out air strikes over Syria as well, but faced a parliamentary defeat.

"This was a political decision," he explained. "The concerns expressed in the British parliament were around the civil war that's going on in Syria and at that time, we're talking about 18 months ago now, the ability to distinguish an intervention against ISIL from an intervention in the Syrian civil war."

In order to contribute to the collective international fight against ISIL, Hammond pointed out that the U.K conducts the second highest amount of air strikes against the group in Iraq.

"We're delighted that others are able to do the lift in Syria that is equally required," he said. "It's about burden sharing."

The Conservative government has partly framed the need for the expansion of its mission against ISIL as necessary to protect Canadians.

"Iraq has asked for international assistance in their fight and I can tell you they are very supportive of what Canada has done," Nicholson said, without specifying if there had been a direct request from Iraq for an expansion of Canadian action.

"We are extending our mission...and that's consistent with international legal obligations."

Nicholson added that progress made in the fight against ISIL should give Canadians "optimism," but the push must continue.

"ISIL has moved heavy equipment into Syria and they of course, no surprise, have no respect whatsoever for the borders, and so it's appropriate we have decided for Canada to join the coalition strikes in Syria as well," he said.

There have been six CF-18 jets, two surveillance planes, a refuelling aircraft and 600 supporting personnel in Iraq since Parliament signed off on the first six-month Canadian deployment last fall.

Also on HuffPost

Photo gallery Mosul Before and After ISIS See Gallery