ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The so-called Islamic State’s (IS) re-emergence and ongoing threats in Iraq means Canada may need to keep its troops in the country longer, a senior Canadian military officer said on Thursday.
According to Army General Jonathan Vance, who serves as Chief of the Defense Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces, IS still poses a threat in Iraq despite the group suffering a military defeat last year.
Gen. Vance noted that the political, economic, and social problems which led to IS’ rise in mid-2014 remain in Iraq and that Canada and its allies must keep its troops on the ground.
The military officer made the comments to a parliamentary committee in the capital Ottawa in the presence of Canada’s Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan and his US counterpart James Mattis.
Canada is currently leading a NATO mission in Iraq to develop the country’s security institutions and structures. The operation was launched in July 2018 and began its work at the end of October.
Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday about the ongoing war against IS.
Responding to a question from Kurdistan 24 correspondent Barzan Hassan, Freeland said ministers from countries who contribute to the anti-terror fight discussed the Canadian-led NATO mission in Iraq during the meeting.
Freeland underlined that “Canada has taken a commanding role” in the mission, and that the country’s leading commander is already on the ground in Iraq.
A NATO spokesperson previously told Kurdistan 24 the mission would “only train members of the Iraqi Security Forces under the direct control of the Government of Iraq.”
“Some Allies conduct training for Peshmerga forces outside the NATO framework,” they added.
The new NATO Mission in Iraq is expected to be fully set up in early 2019. It will be a non-combat mission and will have advisors working closely with officials of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and the Office of the National Security Advisor.
It will also train Iraqi instructors at Iraqi military schools and academies in such areas as countering explosive devices, civil-military planning, armored vehicle maintenance, and military medicine.