OTTAWA—A C-17 transport aircraft dispatched to support French forces battling Islamist rebels in Mali will remain in the region until Feb. 15 as the federal government extends a one-week commitment to a full month.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced Thursday that the massive cargo plane would continue to ferry equipment and personnel between France and Mali’s capital, Bamako for several weeks.
“Canada is a committed partner in combating terrorism in all forms,” said Baird. “We recognize the many challenges Mali and its neighbours are facing at the moment, and we are prepared to do our part.”
The government had pledged the use of the C-17 for one week, a commitment that had been due to end Thursday. Baird suggested Canada may be prepared to offer further assistance.
“Our government also continues to reflect on contributions we can make in other non-military areas,” he said in the news release.
French forces are in Mali to push back rebels who are occupying the northern portion of the country. There are international concerns that if left unchecked, the country could become a breeding ground for international terrorism.
However, he also said he wanted a broad consensus on what that role should be.