On November 13 the Commander of Joint Task Force, Colonel Daniel Constable provided an update on Canada’s operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Operation IMPACT is the Canadian Armed Force’s support to the Middle East Stabilization Force, the multinational coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Republic of Iraq. At present 600 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel are taking part in the mission.
“I am proud of our Canadian Armed Forces personnel. Without their dedication no aircraft would have flown. We are seeing signs of success,” said Constable.
Due to the efforts of the United States led coalition, of which Canada is a member, ISIL is now operating in a defensive rather than offensive manner.
Canadian Aurora aircraft continue to act in the capacity of intelligence gathering. The air surveillance is leading to coalition forces detecting ISIL on the ground. Finding where they are gives the coalition forces accurate information and leads to successful coalition air and ground strikes, which is disrupting and degrading the ISIL supply lines. These strikes leave ISIL hiding and unable to move freely.
According to Constable, Canada’s Polaris aircraft also offer air-to-air refuelling to coalition planes. The longer the Auroras are able to stay in the air the further opportunity they have to gather intelligence on ISIL. The more intelligence that is gathered the more accurate the air strikes will be, which will minimize civilian casualties on the ground.
Canada’s CF-18s conducted their first combat strike since joining the fight against ISIL. Coordinated with coalition partners, two CF-18s attacked ISIL targets with GBU12 500 lb laser guided bombs in the vicinity of Fallujah, Iraq. All aircraft returned safely to base.
Constable concluded his briefing by acknowledging Canadian military families.
“Thanks to our families and all those who support our members. Do not underestimate how much we appreciate your support.”
ISIL is known as an extremist militant group that advocates radical interpretations of Islam and claims religious authority over all Muslims. ISIL 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.
ISIL’s ultimate objective is the establishment of a world-wide Islamic caliphate, or state led by a supreme religious leader.
It is estimated that ISIL has between 20,000 and 30,000 fighters in total across Iraq and Syria, of which it is estimated 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 began taking control of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014, starting with Fallujah, Iraq last January. They have gained momentum with the fall of Mosul in June. Their rapid advance across Iraq and Syria has displaced millions of people and undermined stability in Iraq and the region and poses a threat to international security.
As a result, a United States led coalition that includes many of Canada’s closest allies and partners, as well as important regional partners, is conducting targeted airstrikes to degrade ISIL.