Canada Suggests Might Support Syrian Air Campaign

The country’s foreign minister cautions that radical Islamist are “infesting” Syria’s opposition.

John Baird and William Hague, the foreign ministers of Canada and the United Kingdom, address a news conference in London, England, January 25, 2012
John Baird and William Hague, the foreign ministers of Canada and the United Kingdom, address a news conference in London, England, January 25, 2012 (FCO)

Canada’s foreign minister suggested on Sunday that the country might support a Western military intervention in Syria to support its rebels against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

When asked on CTV television whether Canada welcomed discussions about an air campaign in Syria, John Baird said, “obviously we’re talking with our allies.”

Hours later, Baird’s press secretary clarified, however: “Canada is not contemplating a military mission in Syria.”

Whether he might support an air campaign or not, Baird left no ambiguity about his opposition to arming Syria’s rebels. Where other NATO allies, notably France and the United Kingdom, advocate arming insurgents to hasten Assad’s downfall, Canada regards warily what Baird described as “radical jihadists making [their] way into Syria and infesting part of the opposition.

It’s no longer just a few hundred Al Qaeda affiliated people, it’s a substantial number of radical extremists that have come from all over the world.

The New York Times reported in October that most of the communications equipment and weapons supplied by the United States and its allies in the region, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey which seek the demise of Assad’s secular dictatorship because he is the only Arab ally of their nemesis Iran, ended up in the hands such religious extremists.

The most potent elements in the armed opposition movement now appear to be the more radical groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra, deemed a terrorist organization by the United States, which last month formally pledged its allegiance to Al Qaeda, the group that carried out the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.

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