Canada to send C-17 transport aircraft to Mali

A C-17 Globemaster from 429 Transport Squadron at 8 Wing/CFB Trenton



OTTAWA - Canada is taking a baby step toward helping in the fight against Islamist forces in Mali.

The federal government announced Monday that a hulking C-17 transport plane will help carry military equipment into the capital, Bamako, for one week, on the request of France, which is looking for help in its fight against al-Qaida-linked forces in the African country.

"We think that is an appropriate role for Canada given our relative capacities and interests," Harper said Montreal. "While I congratulate the French for their initiative ... there really has to be significant African participation and African-led participation to make such a mission successful."

France has taken the lead in a UN-mandated mission to push back against Islamists.

Harper says the Canadian Forces will not get involved in direct military action. However, he admitted this week's mission may not be the end of Canada's indirect involvement.

"We will obviously, after a few days, analyze how (the mission) is going and talk with our allies, but this is intended to be of a short duration," he said.

The United States has promised to share intelligence with France, and may also send surveillance drones.

Britain has offered another two C-17 transport planes to carry French military equipment to Mali this week.

Canada already has a C-17 in the region after a small Canadian special operations team from CFB Petawawa recently flew to Niger, just east of Mali.

They'll get things ready for about two dozen Canadians who'll shepherd soldiers from Niger in a U.S.-led training exercise in Mauritania through February and March.

Another C-17 is being prepared at CFB Trenton, to leave Canada as early as Wednesday.

- with files from Reuters

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