Harjit Sajjan, the Canadian Minister of Defence, with Peshmerga leaders gives an interview in 2015. Photo: Canada Armed Forces
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Within a month, Canada is expected to follow through with a promise to assist a battalion of Kurdish Peshmerga forces by acquiring for them enough weapons and equipment for their fight against ISIS within the international coalition.
“It should include weapons, military equipment and devices for the size of a battalion — everything, not including vehicles,” Brigadier General Hajar Ismail, director of coordination and relations at the Kurdish Ministry of Peshmerga told Rudaw English on Wednesday. “The paperwork is done, Baghdad has signed off.”
The acquisition of the equipment was reported earlier this week.
“Canada will also provide the Kurdish Peshmerga forces with personal protective equipment, communications systems, medical supplies and optics, such as cameras, sights and scopes,” Sputnik News reported on a statement by the Canadian Ministry of Defence. “The intent remains to deliver the items as quickly as possible, in line with suppliers’ ability to provide the quantities sought.”
However, Ottawa had previously promised to help equip the Kurds in February 2016, but Canadian officials had told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that training and weaponry provided by Canada to Kurdish forces could be used in the future as part of a Kurdish aspiration for independence.
Kurdish leaders have long assured Canadians that the weapons and arms will be used against ISIS and have repeatedly cited Iraq’s constitution for resolving territorial disputes between Baghdad and Erbil.
Brig. Gen. Hajar told Rudaw English that he spoke with Canadian last week and that Kurdish forces “will receive this, with Baghdad in agreement, within a month.”
Canada’s Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan visited Erbil in December 2016 and said in the war against ISIS, "It has to be the Iraqi boots on the ground — if you don't have the boots on the ground, you cannot win.” Sajjan added that the focus of the coalition’s fight against the ISIS needed to change from airstrikes to ground combat.
Kurdish forces on the ground have partnered with coalition forces and secured towns and villages east of Mosul since 2014. Additionally, Kurdish forces have defended and fortified a 1,000-kilometer frontline that runs from near Shingal to near Khanaqin.