TORONTO — Canada plans to launch airstrikes against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq following a U.S. request, a senior government official said. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was set to announce details later Friday.
The official confirmed Canada's combat mission on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the plans.
The deployment needs to be voted on in Parliament but Harper's Conservative government has the majority of seats so it is expected to pass.
Canada is among dozens of countries that have signed up to the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria.
Canada has more than two dozen military advisers already in Iraq as part of an effort to advise Kurdish forces against Islamic militants after a request from President Barack Obama. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes tweeted last month that the U.S. welcomed Harper's announcement that Canada would send military advisers to Iraq as part of the U.S. effort to support Kurdish forces.
Canada also earlier contributed two military cargo planes that carried weapons to Kurdish fighters.
The new combat mission is expected to include a handful of CF-18 fighter jets, refueling tankers and surveillance planes. Further humanitarian assistance is also expected to be announced.
Opposition parties have been pressing Harper to be more transparent about Canada's plans. Harper's government won the support of the opposition parties for air strikes in Libya in 2011 but his party's majority means he doesn't need their support. A motion is expected to be debated and voted on Monday.
Canada's former Liberal government refused a request to send troops when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, straining ties between the two neighbors. Canada then stepped up its Afghanistan mission.
Harper formally ended Canada's combat role in Afghanistan in 2011. The mission cost 157 soldiers their lives since 2002, shocking Canadians unaccustomed to seeing their troops die in battle.