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Last Updated: Friday, 14 March 2008, 10:40 GMT
Canadian MPs back Afghan mission
Canadian troops at site of Kandahar blast - 12 March 2008
Canadian troops have become increasingly involved in combat
Canada's parliament has voted to extend the army's mission in Afghanistan by two years to 2011, but only if Nato sends reinforcements and equipment.

MPs voted 198-77 to keep the 2,500 troops in the southern province of Kandahar if Canada's allies send 1,000 more soldiers, drones and helicopters.

Otherwise, Canada would withdraw next year at the end of its current mandate.

The confidence motion had been expected to pass because the minority governing Conservatives had opposition support.

The Conservatives, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, were backed by the opposition Liberal Party after they adapted their motion to include greater emphasis on reconstruction and training for Afghan troops.

The consequences of pulling Canada's military out of Afghanistan could have a far-reaching effect or a domino effect on others
Defence Minister Peter Mackay

They also set a firm pull-out date of December 2011.

The New Democratic Party and the Bloc Quebecois voted against the extension of the Canadian mission past February 2009.

The motion was treated as a confidence vote in the government. Had it not been passed, it would have triggered early parliamentary elections.

Increasing combat

In parliamentary debate on the vote last month, Defence Minister Peter Mackay had urged MPs to support the motion.

"The consequences of pulling Canada's military out of Afghanistan could have a far-reaching effect or a domino effect on others," he said.

"If we were to pack up and leave Afghanistan, why wouldn't other nations follow suit?"

Canada's role in the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) is becoming increasingly controversial at home.

Eighty soldiers and one diplomat have been killed as the mission's original role of reconstruction has become increasingly aimed at fighting Taleban and al-Qaeda insurgents in volatile Kandahar province.



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