Canadian troops in Kurdistan continue wearing Kurdish flag patch

Canadian troops in the Kurdistan Region will keep the Kurdish flag insignia on their uniform in an act of solidarity, but not support for Kurdish independence, said a Canadian military official on Saturday.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Canadian troops in the Kurdistan Region will keep the Kurdish flag on their uniform in an act of solidarity, but not support for Kurdish independence, said a Canadian military official on Saturday.

Canada is a member of the international coalition against the Islamic State (IS) with 200 troops in the Kurdistan Region that provide military training to Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

The troops have been stationed in the Region since 2014. They have since been wearing the Kurdish flag patch on their uniform during training missions.

In early June, the Canadian commander of the special force in Iraq Major General Mike Rouleau spoke to Canadian news network CTV News about the patches.

Rouleau said that the troops are reconsidering wearing the patch after different interpretations about it emerged.

“Whether we have them on or off, it’s not going to change anything about the level of commitment and closeness that we have with the people who we’re sent there to support,” Rouleau said.

Recently, General Jonathan Vance, the chief of the defense staff, stated that wearing the patches should not be considered as support for the Region’s independence, but an act of solidarity with the Peshmerga forces.

The President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani has called for a referendum on breaking up from Iraq by the end of 2016.

President Barzani often states that “the people of the Kurdistan Region have the right to decide on their future.”

On Friday, Canadian National Defense spokesperson Daniel Le Bouthillier told CTV in an email that the review on wearing the patch had been completed.

The spokesperson revealed that Gen. Vance had decided to keep the Kurdistan flag insignia on the uniform of Canadian troops that train Peshmerga.

“[The flag] acts as an identification patch with our partner force, demonstrates solidarity with a region facing existential threats for which we are there to help, and is in keeping with previous methods used by Canada,” Le Bouthillier explained.

“The flag is in no way a symbol of Canadian support for political disunity in Iraq,” he added.

Moreover, the Defense Minister of Canada Harjit Sajjan recently commented on the topic. He stated that the Kurdish leadership had mentioned that Peshmerga forces are part of Iraqi security forces.

“The Peshmerga are part of the Iraqi security forces, and every time I’ve met with the Kurdish leadership, they have stressed that themselves," Sajjan stated.

“Every time we have sat down, they’ve actually had their own Kurdish flag at the table and an Iraqi flag as well. So this is something we are very sensitive to,” he concluded.

 

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany