The White House on Thursday called the twin attacks this week against Canadian soldiers “despicable terrorist attacks” — after President Obama had taken criticism for hedging his characterization a day earlier of the shooting at Canada’s government complex.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest addressed the tragedy at the briefing Thursday afternoon. “Our hearts go out to the victims of the despicable terrorist attacks that occurred in Canada this week. Canada is one of our closest allies, partners, and friends in the world and we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in solidarity,” he said.

Details still are emerging about the gunman in Wednesday’s shooting, but reports say he recently converted to Islam and desperately wanted to move to the Middle East. The attack came just one day after Canada raised its terror alert and two days after another jihadist convert, Martin Couture-Rouleau, killed a uniformed Canadian soldier in a hit-and-run in Quebec. Couture-Rouleau, who was killed by police, had recently had his passport seized to bar him from traveling to join the Islamic State, or ISIS.

The Obama administration had said little until Wednesday about the hit-and-run, which came shortly after Canada’s Parliament voted to join the U.S.-led airstrike campaign against ISIS.

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