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Canada announces end to Syria bombing

Ottawa has given the end date for its airstrike campaign in Syria as February 22. The move is strongly against the tide of Canadian public opinion.

The Canadian government said on Monday that it would end its combat role in the fight against "Islamic State" (IS) terrorists by February 22. Going against public sympathies, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he will pull the six remaining Canadian jets that have been bombing IS targets as part of a US-led coalition since April 2015.

"We can't do everything .. 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," Trudeau told the press, adding that "the people terrorized by ("IS") every day don't need our vengeance, they need our help."

Ottawa has confirmed that even as the airstrikes wind down, intelligence missions will continue to fly over the region. Beyond that, Canada will raise the number of troops helping train Kurdish fighters in Iraq to near 200, triple the previous figure.

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The government also pledged some 1.6 billion Canadian dollars (US$1.2 billion) to humanitarian and development aid in response to the crises in Syria and Iraq that have seen millions displaced and hundreds of thousands killed.

Trudeau made

the promise to end his country's combat role shortly after being elected

, but a recent poll showed that some two-thirds of Canadians support the airstrikes, or even want them expanded, after "IS"-inspired attacks in Jakarta and Burkina Faso killed seven Canadian nationals last month.

While some saw the move as a blow to the unity of the anti-"IS" coalition, the US did not seem upset at their neighbor's decision.

"I'm confident we are going to continue to have discussions with the Canadians about additional steps they can take to further enhance our counter-ISIL efforts," said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, using an alternative acronym for "IS."

es/bw (AFP, Reuters)

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