05/21/2015 12:15 EDT | Updated 05/21/2016 01:12 EDT

Canadian jets strike Islamic State militants' staging area in Syria

OTTAWA - Defence Minister Jason Kenney says Canadian jets struck a militant staging area in Syria on Wednesday.Kenney says the two CF-18 aircraft used precision-guided weapons in the attack and the planes returned safely.Canadian jets have been hitting targets in Iraq connected to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant since last fall, but have only recently starting bombing in Syria.The air element includes six CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft, a Polaris aerial refueller and two Aurora surveillance aircraft.About 600 Canadian Forces personnel are deployed as part of the operation.Since last fall, the Canadian planes have flown more than 900 sorties, including 600 involving CF-18s."These strikes demonstrate our government's firm resolve to tackle the threat of terrorism against Canada and to promote international security and stability," Kenney said of the latest attacks.He said Canada will continue to support the coalition fighting the Islamic State movement.In recent days, the militants have been on the advance, seizing the city of Ramadi in Iraq and the central Syrian town of Palmyra.Kenney has described the fall of Ramadi as a setback for the Iraqi military, but added that it shouldn't be seen as a sign that the coalition is losing the fight against ISIL.