Canadian Armed Forces personnel were involved in efforts against an offensive strike by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) against Kurdish Security Forces (KSF) on Dec. 16. This is the largest event that the CAF training personnel has been involved within that region.
“This was a significant event by the sheer magnitude of what occurred. It was also impressive to see just how effective the KSF were able to operate with the assistance of the coalition trainers that were there,” said Maj.-Gen Charles Lammare in a press conference.
ISIL forces in Iraq initiated a coordinated attack at 4 p.m. Dec. 16 resulting in multiple incursions in KSF defence positions, near Mosul, the country’s second largest city. Two of these incursions took place in areas where KSF is currently being advised by the CAF members.
“They came under effective fire and our guys were close enough and able to respond with fire on to those ISIL positions,” noted Lammare.
Though exact numbers are not confirmed, hundreds of ISIL members employed indirect artillery fire, suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive devices and ground troops to break through the defensive line.
Lammare noted there was an element of surprise in the attack, however, KSF was able to regain control by nightfall and in the early morning hours of Dec. 17, KSF and coalition forces conducted successful counter attacks to reestablish the defence line.
Two CF-18 were also employed to conduct strikes against the militant group.
There were no Canadian casualties.
“During the attack the CAF personnel deployed in Iraq in the train, advise and assist role were integral to the effort in coordinating and de-conflicting coalition support offered to the KSF,” said Lammare.
He went on to say that the incident reflected the importance of the CAF’s role in the region.
“Our Canadian Armed Forces personnel working within their train advise and assist mission and alongside their Kurdish Security Force allies performed very well in demanding conditions thereby highlighting the success of our efforts in helping the KSF counter the threats posed by the extremist militant group ISIL.”
CAF personnel are deployed to the region to provide training, advice and assistance to Kurdish Security Forces in Iraq. Currently 69 members are in the area. Though the trainers are not specifically trained combatants, the personnel are prepared to defend themselves in an attack such as this.
After being briefed about the incident, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan issued the following statement:
“Although the attackers were able briefly to penetrate KSF defensive positions, our forces played a role in advising and assisting the KSF to successfully launch a counter attack and re-establish defensive lines. There were no Canadian Armed Forces casualties.
“These actions illustrate the valuable contribution our forces are making to the KSF and the fight against ISIL. All Canadians can rightfully take pride in the professionalism of our members and the work of the coalition.”
** Photo credit Combat Camera: Operation IMPACT Royal Canadian Air Force members of Air Task Force-Iraq and several members of the coalition participate in the SHAMAL SERIALS, a combat search and rescue exercise held for personnel of the Middle East Stabilization Force, currently conducting operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in a training area in Kuwait on March 16, 2015. Photo: Op Impact, DND GX2015-138-238**