Trudeau's newly elected Liberal government scaled back the number of Syrian migrants it will accept by year end after the attacks in Paris sparked concern that the election promise to bring in 25,000 by Dec 31 would not allow enough time for security checks.

Some 300 Syrian refugees were expected to arrive on two military flights, the first arriving in Toronto late on yesterday and the second in Montreal on Saturday. Trudeau has said 10,000 will be resettled by the end of the year and a further 15,000 by the end of February.

At the airport, privately sponsored refugees have already been arriving on commercial flights in recent days at a separate terminal from the military airlift. Those arriving on Thursday were met by sponsors and ordinary Canadians who had come to the airport to greet the much-anticipated newcomers.

Toronto's mayor tweeted a welcome, while the Toronto Star, the country's largest newspaper, covered its front page with a 'Welcome to Canada' banner headline in English and Arabic, along with an article explaining Canadian weather, ice hockey and quirky local slang.

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