Justin Trudeau
Justin Trudeau Reuters

A plane carrying 163 Syrian migrants arrived in Canada Thursday, kicking off a drive to take in thousands from the war-torn country that has many concerned over the potential influx of terrorists and militant Islam.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was at Toronto's airport to personally greet them. The government hopes to bring in 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year.

"We will all remember this day," Trudeau said shortly before greeting the migrants, many of them women and children. Click the image below to watch video of their arrival.

The first group arrived aboard a troop transport plane that set out from Beirut and made a stopover in Germany.

The new Liberal government campaigned on a pledge to resettle 25,000 Syrians this year.

But it backpedaled last month, citing logistical issues and following criticism that Ottawa had been moving too fast despite security concerns heightened by the Islamic State (ISIS) terror attacks in Paris, in which at least two terrorists entered the country under the guise of "refugees."

Immigration Minister John McCallum has said he remains hopeful the government can bring in 10,000 refugees by December 31. A further 15,000 are expected to arrive by the end of February.

Since the start of 2014, Canada has welcomed 3,500 Syrian migrants.

AFP contributed to this report.