Canada sending C-17 transport plane to help French mission in Mali

Canada received a specific request from the French government for "heavy-lift aircraft"

From CBC News:  Canada will provide one RCAF C-17 transport aircraft in a non-combat role to support the operations of its allies in Mali for a week, the Harper government announced Monday morning in a press release.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to meet with reporters at an announcement in Montreal at 1 p.m. ET.

This assistance was previewed in a Sunday tweet from Mali’s president, Dioncounda Traoré, who said that the United States, Great Britain and Canada are announcing their "support/logistical assistance" as the French military continues to fight the insurgency led by the al-Qaeda-linked extremists in Mali.

Initially, it was unclear what this tweet could be referring to. While the other two countries had moved over the weekend to announce specific support measures for the airstrikes in the former French colony, Canada’s on-the-record support for countering the insurgency before today had been only verbal.

The government release issued late Monday morning said Canada had received a specific request from the French government today for "heavy-lift aircraft to assist in the transport of equipment into the Malian capital of Bamako, a location that is not part of any active combat zone."

"While the Government of Canada is not, and will not be, considering a direct Canadian military mission in Mali, Canada is prepared, consistent with the UN Security Council Resolution [2085], to provide limited and clearly defined logistical support to assist the forces that are intervening in Mali," the statement from Harper said.

"At no time will Canadian Armed Forces members be participating in direct action against insurgent forces in Mali," the prime minister’s statement said.  (photo: Andy Clark/Reuters)

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