Canadian soldiers leaving their base in Trenton, Ontario bound for Kuwait. Oct. 2014. Photo: The Canadian press
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Wednesday’s lengthy firefight between Islamic State (ISIS) militants and Kurdish Peshmerga forces on multiple front-lines were the deadliest ISIS-offensive since the deployment of western trainers to Iraq more than a year ago.
After ISIS attacked in at least five different locations with suicide bombers, vehicle-borne improvised explosives (VBIEDs) “car bombs, mortars and rockets” the Kurds, on Thursday, launched a counter-offensive.
They were joined by 69 Canadian special forces who, while there as trainers, gave supporting fire to their Peshmerga allies.
At least six Peshmerga were killed and 13 wounded in these confrontations. They killed about 70 of the attackers. None of the Canadians sustained any casualties or injuries.
“They [the Peshmerga] came under effective fire and our guys were close enough and able to respond with fire on those ISIL positions,” Canadian Maj.-Gen Charles Lamarre told CBC News.
He tried to downplay the fact that these forces were engaged in a combat role, even, albeit briefly, by adding that, “Our guys are always prepared because it’s a dangerous environment and they need to defend not only themselves but the forces with which they are training and providing assistance.”
According to Vice News Lamarre also stressed that the Canadians only engaged in fighting with ISIS when their Kurdish allies came under fire.
Canada’s Defense Minister, Harjit Sajjan, congratulated his troops for their response. “These actions illustrate the valuable contribution our forces are making to the [Peshmerga] and the fight against ISIL,” he stated.
Canadian forces, operating under an advisory role, have exchanged fire with ISIS on one other occasion in the past.
They have also been used as spotters to provide Peshmerga forces with coalition air strikes. The two Canadian CF-18 jets supported the Canadian-Kurdish counter-attack on Thursday are set to be withdrawn by the Canadian government next March as per the new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wish.