Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has ordered an air strike on a Syrian military training camp in northwestern Syria, the defence ministry said Wednesday.
Canada will not be participating in the planned military offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) stronghold of Raqqa, but will provide logistical support for Syrian forces as they advance to the northern border.
The strike will be the first since Canada began its mission in Syria in March.
“Canada’s commitment to helping our partner Syrian forces defeat ISIL and the Assad regime is clear and absolute,” Trudeau said in a statement Wednesday.
Canada will send “a high-level representative” to Syria and “provide the necessary support” to the Syrian army, the statement said.
The military operation will target the training camp of al-Shabab, a Sunni Muslim militant group that has waged a deadly insurgency in the country since 2013.
Syrian troops have since retaken most of the camp, which is believed to hold hundreds of fighters, and are currently besieging the town of Maaloula.
The Canadian military is also training Syrian soldiers in air defense, anti-tank and artillery tactics, according to a statement from Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
Canadian officials have previously said the government will provide training to moderate Syrian rebels who are also fighting against ISIL, and is working to bring in American troops to help with the offensive.
In addition to the airstrikes, the Canadian military will also deploy surveillance drones to the area, and provide air support to Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.
Canada’s mission to Syria has come under criticism from Washington, with a number of lawmakers calling for the government to halt the mission until the U.S. has completed its own investigation into its role in the assault.