Canada PM Says Will Extend and Expand Iraq Mission

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Canada's prime minister said Wednesday he will ask parliament next week to extend and broaden a six-month mission fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq due to wrap up next month.

With a Conservative majority in the House, the government's motion is assured to pass.

"Next week, it is the government's plan to move forward with a request to parliament for extension and expansion of the mission," Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters.

"And I will obviously give more details when we do that," he added.

The military mission started in November with Canadian war planes joining U.S.-led airstrikes on Islamic State jihadists.

Canada also deployed 69 special forces troops to train Kurds in northern Iraq.

A clash mid-January in which the Canadians came under mortar and machine gun fire while training Iraqi troops near the front lines, as well as a recent friendly fire death of a Canadian soldier, however, have underscored political divisions in Ottawa over the mission.

The opposition has accused Harper of lying when he outlined mission parameters to parliament in October that were supposed to limit ground forces to a non-combat role.

But Harper has been unapologetic -- backed by a majority of Canadians who support the mission in the aftermath of two attacks in Ottawa and rural Quebec the same month.

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