Canada sends C-17 to Mali to help France
OTTAWA - Canada is contributing one of its large C-17 military cargo planes to deliver supplies to the capital of Mali after a request from France.
But Prime Minister Stephen Harper insists no Canadian Forces personnel will be involved in any combat action in the landlocked West African country.
An al-Qaida linked group has taken control of the northern part of Mali and is making gains towards the south.
The Canadian plane will be used to assist in the transport of equipment into the Malian capital of Bamako, which is not in the combat zone.
France, which began air strikes last week against insurgents in the north, has ordered the immediate evacuation of all French nationals living in Malian town of Segou.
The loan of the Canadian aircraft is for one week.
"The government of Canada is deeply concerned by recent events in Mali," Harper says in a statement.
"The establishment of a terrorist region in the middle of Africa is of grave concern to the broader international community, including Canada and our close allies."
Harper says the government received a specific request today from France for a heavy-lift aircraft.
"At no time will Canadian Armed Forces members be participating in direct action against insurgent forces in Mali," Harper says.