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Canada’s Role in Iraq Evolving

Canadian Special Operation Forces (CANSOF) were fired on twice in the past week as they provided tactical training to Iraqi Security Forces, as such they returned fire on Islamic State Militants as an act of self-defence.

The Canadian soldiers were at the front lines examining terrain with their Iraqi counterparts when they came under attack.

“Our role in an advise and assist capacity in Iraq is in a state of evolution. We were teaching them how to better examine the combat landscape, how to approach terrain. We were attacked by ISIL and responded accordingly,” said Captain (Navy) Paul Forget, Canadian Joint Operations Command.

Initially, on September 5, 2014, Prime Minister Harper announced the CAF would provide personnel to advise and assist the security forces in the Republic of Iraq to plan and execute operations against ISIL.

Since this time the coalition has seen ISIL move from an offensive to defensive position, with Iraqi Security Forces regaining key military positions.

As ISIL takes a more defensive posture and the Iraqi soldiers, under the training of the Canadians improve their ability to operate in effectively in the terrain, CAN SOF are finding new ways to mentor the Iraqis.

“The rules of engagement have not been changed or altered,” said Forget. “Canadian troops will increasingly be put in the position to be in firefights. The risk still exists.”

ISIL is an extremist militant group advocating radical interpretations of Islam and claims religious authority over all Muslims. It aims to create a caliphate in the Levant region, which includes Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus and a part of southern Turkey by converting or killing non-Sunni populations.

It is estimated that ISIL has between 20,000 and 30,000 fighters in total across Iraq and Syria, of which 15,000 are foreign recruits. The group has acquired equipment including tanks, artillery pieces and other light vehicles, mainly stolen from Iraqi and Syrian military installations.

ISIL’s ultimate objective is the establishment of a world-wide Islamic caliphate or state led by a supreme religious leader. As a result, a United States led Coalition that includes Canada and many of Canada’s closest allies and partners, are conducting joint operations to degrade ISIL.

On October 30, 2014 the CAF conducted its first mission as part of the US-led Middle East Stabilization Force.

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Vicki L Morrison

Thanks to her husband's military career Vicki reinvented herself as a writer so she could work from home, while taking care of their three kids. A former MFRC executive director Vicki is a passionate advocate for military families who loves telling their stories.

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