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Trudeau says Canada ready to settle 25,000 Syrian refugees

OTTAWA: Canada’s new prime minister Thursday vowed to make good on campaign promises to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the beginning of next year and bring home fighter jets battling the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

In his first interview since taking office on Wednesday, Justin Trudeau told the Radio-Canada network: “The goal is still to have 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada before January 1.”

Several government ministries have been mobilized to achieve this goal in such a short time, Trudeau said, adding the federal government would have to work closely with Canada’s provinces and municipalities.

The refugees must be given ways to support their families once they reach Canada so they can benefit their community and the country as a whole, just like the “waves of immigrants and refugees that did so earlier,” Trudeau said.

He also said his defense minister, Harjit Sajjan, was working to bring home Canadian warplanes from the fight against IS in Iraq and Syria.

Canada last year deployed CF-18 fighter jets to the region until March 2016, as well as about 70 special forces troops to train Kurds in northern Iraq.

During the campaign, Trudeau pledged to end Canada’s combat mission in the region, but he vowed to keep the military trainers in place.

The fighter jets will be brought home quickly in a “responsible” manner that is “respectful of our allies,” Trudeau said, adding that Sajjan will “look at different options to ensure that we keep our promise” to stop the bombing.

Canada’s allies “understand very well that this government was elected on a clear mandate to end the strikes,” Trudeau said.

Aside from bringing in refugees, Canada will provide humanitarian aid in the region and focus its military mission on training friendly forces instead of fighting, Trudeau said, emphasizing his country remained “committed to the fight against the IS.”

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