ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Canadian government will send 20 police officers to Iraq as part of its involvement in the anti-Islamic State (IS) Coalition’s efforts, the Foreign Affairs Minister announced on Wednesday.
Canada will send police officers to Iraq over the next two years to “support efforts to re-establish a local police presence” in areas which have been retaken from IS, as well as “advise their Iraqi counterparts,” said Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
There are currently three Canadian police officers in Iraq, with a fourth expected to join in September. Others will be sent in gradually over the next two years, according to The Toronto Star.
At the end of June, Canada extended its military mission in Iraq for another two years.
The issue of establishing security and stability in liberated areas, notably Mosul where victory was declared a month ago, has been one of the most pressing concerns for the post-IS era.
Despite civilians beginning to return home, the Iraqi Federal Police is maintaining a strong presence in Iraq’s second largest city and continues to uncover tunnels the militant group’s cells use to move around the city and carry out attacks.
On Monday, it was announced the Iraqi army would remain in control of security in Mosul until local police forces are ready.
Brigadier-General Yahya Rasool, a spokesperson for the Iraqi army’s joint operations command, said troops will not leave Mosul yet.
“There are no plans to withdraw military units from newly recaptured Mosul,” Rasool noted. “It’s too early for that.”
The recently liberated Old City of Mosul has been closed off to civilians, and a curfew was imposed on Tuesday following reports of a group of gunmen hiding in tunnels and houses in the area, posing a threat to civilians and security forces.
The Iraqi security forces’ presence in the area is expected to intensify, and more stringent inspections of houses will reportedly be conducted to halt the extremist group from carrying out further attacks.
On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the Federal Police executed a senior IS judicial officer after storming an underground tunnel where he was hiding in western Mosul.
“West Mosul is still a military zone as the search operations are ongoing for suspects, mines, and explosive devices,” a military spokesman said. “The area is still not safe for the population to return.”
Bodies still litter the streets of Mosul, and the lack of services and general insecurity is making it impossible for hundreds of thousands of civilians to return home.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany