TORONTO (Kurdistan 24) – Canada’s support for the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga forces has not changed, and it continues to train, advise, and assist the Kurdish troops, a commanding officer of the Canadian Tactical Aviation Detachment said on Thursday.
Although the Islamic State (IS) has been militarily defeated, the detachment continues to back the Canadian Special Operations Forces (SOF) who provide support to Peshmerga, Major Sylvain Lapierre was quoted as saying by Canadian-based Skies Mag.
“There is really no change to that part,” Lapierre, a helicopter pilot and the commanding officer of the fifth rotation of a tactical aviation detachment, stated.
“We still provide them [SOF] with liaison, reconnaissance, and material support, and we are on standby for casualty evacuation if it were to be required,” he added.
According to the Canadian publication, the aviation detachment is comprised of four CH-146 Griffon helicopters.
Additionally, around 50 aircrew, maintenance, logistics, and headquarters personnel continue to provide tactical transport from an airbase near the Kurdistan Region capital of Erbil as well as carry Canadian and coalition SOF, equipment, and ammunition.
Lapierre said IS still poses a threat in the region through what he described as “rogue actors”—members of the extremist group or its sympathizers.
“We obviously monitor everything that happens in the region from an intelligence perspective,” he told Skies Mag. “But nothing has really changed the way we are flying or how the [detachment] is operating in the area.”
Since arriving in the Kurdistan Region in the fall of 2014, Canada’s special forces have trained Peshmerga in an “advise and assist” capacity without engaging in direct combat.
Last June, the Canadian government said it would keep troops in Iraq until 2019 to expand their operation and focus on “rebuilding,” but did not specify what their role would be once IS was officially defeated.
In October, the Canadian military suspended its support to both Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga following the outbreak of hostilities between the two sides after the Kurdistan Region’s Sep. 25 independence referendum. It has since resumed its operations.