File photo shows a Peshmerga fighter during a military training conducted by the US-led Global Coalition against ISIS in the Kurdistan Region in 2016. Photo: Rudaw/Farzin Hassan
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—The Canadian ministry of defense is to continue with its plan to arm the Kurdish Peshmerga forces despite Monday’s referendum that saw the majority of Kurds voting for independence from Iraq.
An article published in Ottawa Citizen says that “The Iraqi government has not signaled its desire for Canada to change the military assistance it’s providing,” Canadian Forces spokeswoman Capt. Patricia Brunelle has told the newspaper in an email.
“The Government of Canada is taking all reasonable steps to ensure that the Government of Iraq and the Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq provide the requisite commitments that any equipment provided from the government of Canada will be used in an appropriate manner,” Capt. Brunelle says in her email.
“Canada will ensure that end-user agreements are fully approved and in place before any equipment is delivered.”
The newspaper writes that it is not clear “when Canada will actually deliver the weapons, but among the armament provided will be .50-calibre sniper rifles equipped with silencers, 60mm mortars and Carl Gustav anti-tank systems.”
“Other gear pledged to the Kurds includes grenade launchers, pistols, carbines, thermal binoculars, cameras, scopes and medical supplies.”
Canada was among the first countries to join the global anti-ISIS coalition in 2014 and Canadian transport planes delivered weapons and ammunition provided by other countries to Erbil alongside 69 Special Forces soldiers to train the Peshmerga.
The Canadian government has so far remained silent about the Kurdish referendum, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying that it was not an issue for outsiders to interfere with.
“As a Quebecer, I’m very sensitive to other countries weighing in on internal decisions around the future of a country or separation questions,” Trudeau told reporters.
“I was involved in two referendum campaigns in Canada where we very much appreciated foreign interlocutors not weighing in on what Quebecers should be choosing and what Canadians should be choosing.”