IRAQ

Canadian special forces exchange fire with IS in Iraq

Land controlled by the Islamic State (IS) group north of Baghdad
Land controlled by the Islamic State (IS) group north of Baghdad Mohamed Sawaf/AFP

Canadian special forces soldiers opened fire on Islamic State group extremists in Iraq over the last week in what a general called an act of self-defence.

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Brigadier General Michael Rouleau, commander of special operations command, said Monday the soldiers were visiting front-line positions with Iraqi forces when they came under mortar and machine-gun fire.

The Canadians, whose job is to train and advise the Iraqi military in their battle against the Islamic State (IS) group, were at the front to help plan an Iraqi operation.

"My troops had completed a planning session with senior Iraqi leaders several kilometres behind the front lines," Rouleau said.

"When they moved forward to confirm the planning at the front lines in order to visualise what they had discussed over a map, they came under immediate and effective mortar and machine-gun fire."

The general said the Canadians used sniper fire to "neutralise both threats" and there were no Canadian injuries.

Rouleau addedd that while Canadian soldiers are not participating in active combat, they have the right to fire back if fired upon. He said it was the first time it had happened.

Canada is among dozens of countries that have joined the US-led coalition fighting the IS group.

Canada has 69 special forces soldiers there in a training and advisory role.

It also has six CF-18 fighter jets, a refuelling tanker aircraft and two surveillance planes in the region as part of an air combat mission that includes about 600 airmen and airwomen.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)
 

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