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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"Into the breach" Canadian camandos in Iraq, will Canada ministers prepare for Iraq update


Several dozen Canadian special forces troops have been on the ground with Iraqi and Kurdish forces in northern Iraq since September. When they were first deployed, Canadians were told the commandos would be working behind the scenes in an advisory and training role.
Asked by NDP leader Tom Mulcair on Sept. 30 whether the troops would escort Iraqi and Kurdish forces into battle against ISIL, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the House of Commons: “Canadian soldiers are not accompanying the Iraqi forces into combat.”
On Oct. 19, Lawson said in a CTV interview that Canadian troops “would have nothing to do” with directing coalition bombing attacks against ISIL forces because that would be, in the words of the interviewer, “a semi-combat role.”
But military leaders have since revealed the commandos are spending 20 per cent of their time on the frontlines with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, calling in airstrikes and killing enemy forces with sniper fire when fired upon.
Lawson says the situation on the ground “evolved” after his interview, but Nicholson says the government “didn’t put limits on their ability to advise and assist the Iraqis,” from the beginning. “I am not sure we could train troops without accompanying them,” Nicholson added Monday.
When did the government decide to put Canadian soldiers on the frontline, and why? Opposition parties have accused the government of misleading Canadians about the mission from the beginning.
What the future holds
In addition to the commandos in northern Iraq, Canada has six fighter jets, two surveillance aircraft, a refuelling plane and 600 military personnel participating in the U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIL.
Both were initially approved for six months, ending in early April. But rather than being on the verge of destroying ISIL,