Soldiers ready for Syrian intervention, commander says
Brig.-Gen. Nicholas Eldaoud says soldiers are prepared to deploy, if ordered
The commander of the 5th Canadian Division in New Brunswick says soldiers in Atlantic Canada are ready to be deployed to Syria, if there is an intervention against the regime in Damascus.
The UN says a toxic "substance" deployed last week during an assault in Syria killed hundreds and "maybe more than 1,000 people."
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Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama agreed on Wednesday that Syria's recent actions call for a "firm response from the international community," as Western countries appeared to edge toward a possible military intervention against the regime in Damascus.
Brig.-Gen. Nicholas Eldaoud, of the 5th Canadian Division, said in an interview on Wednesday that such a move is part of what the military is trained for, and could respond if ordered.
"Are we ready for Syria, specifically? The answer is yes," Eldaoud said.
"The Canadian government asked the military, ‘Give us six missions in the Canada-first defence strategy.’ … One of them is to be deployed for a longer time anywhere in the world. So, when, and if, the Canadian government wants us to be involved, in any shape or form which is within our mandate, absolutely we will respond and do what we have to do."
A source in Jordan's armed forces told the country's semi-official Petra news agency about a two-day summit of military officials in Amman. It included the chiefs of defence staff from Britain, the United States, Turkey, France, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan.
The Canadian government would not confirm that General Tom Lawson is attending the meetings. But various reports say the defence chiefs were discussing the threat to regional security posed by the ongoing civil strife in Syria, and in particular, impacts on neighbouring Jordan, where 500,000 Syrian refugees have spilled over the border.
Canada has resisted offering more than humanitarian help in Syria.
Andrew MacDougall, the communications director for the prime minister, said on Tuesday that it is "premature to discuss roles" that Canada could play in an eventual military operation.
The Canadian government is not legally obligated to obtain Parliament's consent to send the Canadian Forces into Syria.
However, Harper has previously promised to put all combat missions to a vote.
The Canadian military will have to wait to see if it is called to intervene in the Syrian conflict.
Eldaoud said at this point, he's more concerned about getting his troops ready to respond to the Atlantic hurricane season.
"Every year, we know that hurricane season happens, and we need to be ready in case those winds are stronger than we hope," he said.