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The Globe and Mail

Ottawa rejects suggestions of armed intervention in Iraq

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk toward the Syrian border on Aug. 11, 2014.


The Canadian government is sticking to its pledge to contribute only humanitarian aid to Iraq.

"Canada is prepared to provide additional support to the humanitarian efforts under way in Iraq. We are working with allies now, but we don't have anything to announce at this point," Jason MacDonald, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's top spokesman, said in an e-mail on Wednesday.

Canada has promised $5-million in aid and unspecified support for U.S. supply drops and air strikes.

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At a Conservative rally in Vaughan, Ont., Wednesday evening, Mr. Harper touched briefly on the situation in Iraq but offered no further details.

"We are going to work with our allies to help bring humanitarian aid to people who are victimized," he told the crowd .

Yazidis, Christians and other minority groups have fled Islamic State extremists during fighting.

While Canada's commitment remained unclear on Wednesday, a government source rejected any suggestion it might send soldiers. "Canada has committed to providing humanitarian support. We have not committed to troops in the country," the source said.

Foreign Affairs critics for the NDP and Liberals both called for continued action, but neither supported putting Canadian troops in Iraq.

"I think we should be providing whatever we can to help humanitarian assistance immediately. That's something very concrete we can do," NDP critic Paul Dewar said. An on-the-ground Canadian military role in any operation is "not necessary, and I don't think it's something we want to do, nor should it be something we should do," Mr. Dewar said.

Liberal critic Marc Garneau pointed to the Conservative government's creation of an Office of Religious Freedom, which opened last year, saying the plight of Yazidi people is a perfect case that calls for aid.

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With a report from the Associated Press

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