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First Canadian airstrikes in Iraq

Canadian warplanes involved in the American-led bombing campaign against militants in Iraq had their baptism of fire on Sunday launching the first air strike since deploying to the region.

Two CF-18 fighter jets attacked targets in the vicinity of Fallujah, a statement from Defence Minister Rob Nicholson's office said.

"Coordinated with our coalition partners, two CF-18s attacked ISIL targets with GBU12 500 lb laser guided bombs," the statement said.

"The approximately four hour mission included air-to-air refueling from Canada's Polaris aircraft."

The three aircraft all safely returned to their base in Kuwait, the statement added.

Few other details of the strike were immediately released, but the statement said assessment of the damage was being done. Fallujah is roughly 70 kilometres west of Baghdad.

Canada has deployed a total of six CF-18s along with the C-150 Polaris and two CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft as its contribution to the American-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has occupied parts of Iraq and Syria.

The CF-18s, also called Hornets, left Canada Oct. 21. Some 600 personnel are involved in the air combat mission. Canada has also shipped about one million kilograms of military supplies to Iraqi security forces, who it is also helping train.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has committed to the mission for six months.

The decision to commit Canada to a combat mission was put to Parliament last month. The Conservative majority easily pushed through a motion supporting the measure.

Harper has said it is imperative to halt ISIL and reduce its capacity to launch terrorist attacks outside the region, including Canada.



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