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The claim: Liberal candidate Marwan Tabbara must apologize for accusing the Canadian Armed Forces of bombing Syrian children.
On Twitter, Jason Kenney went after comments made by Marwan Tabbara, the Liberal candidate for the new riding of Kitchener South-Hespeler, at a local all-candidates debate. During an intense exchange, Tabbara asked the Conservative candidate Marian Gagne: "So is bombing Syrian children OK?"
"No, of course not" she replied.
The exchange sounded tense, especially as candidates had been asked to talk about balanced budgets.
Kenney posted tweets calling Tabbara's comments "disturbing," and claimed that Tabbara had accused Canada's Armed Forces of bombing Syrian children. He "called on" Tabbara to "retract and apologize" for his comments which were "outrageous and baseless."
Tabbara can hardly be accused of having accused "the RCAF of 'bombing Syrian children.'" He raised it as a possible (probable?) outcome of having fighter jets dropping bombs on Syria. It was an awkward comment for a political debate, but it's hardly the accusation that Kenney has tried to use to make political hay. Tabbara apologized.
It does beg the question: have there been civilian deaths at the hands of Canadians in Iraq or Syria? Is it even reasonable to expect (or to promise) that in a situation of war civilians won't be hit by bombs?
Kenney was quick to say no, the Canadian Armed Forces has said there have been no credible reports of civilian casualties in Iraq or Syria.
Airwars, an independent monitoring organization that gathers information through sources on the ground, reports that there have been at least 459 casualties since the start of the Coalition-led bombing campaign against ISIS. And documents from the Pentagon, investigated by CBC's The Fifth Estate, suggest that a Canadian airstrike killed as many as 27 civilians last January.
Canada's military denies the report and says that there's no need to investigate.
On Sept. 26, the Canadian Forces announced that Canadian soldiers were involved in bombing an Improvised Explosive Device factory in Hīt, Iraq.
Airwars reports that five civilians, including a child, were killed by Coalition air strikes in Hīt at about the same time. The reports are contested and Airwars has links to four local media agencies reporting on the deaths.
The only civilian deaths acknowledged by the Coalition forces are two Syrian children killed by Americans in 2014.
Considering this, Tabbara's comments are hardly "outrageous." Canada is part of the Coalition and is both directly responsible for the civilians killed as a result of our actions, but also indirectly responsible for the actions of our allies. We can't ally with other nations during a war and refuse to acknowledge that our Coalition has resulted in a child being killed from time to time.
It's not unreasonable to assume that casualties are a part of war, regardless of how precise the newest weapons are.
Photo: flickr/ Daily Xtra