The Liberal government in Ottawa announced on Thursday that the Canadian anti-Daesh (IS) mission to Iraq will be extended for two years to Mar. 31, 2019.
Around 200 special forces are currently part of the “advise and assist” mission in Iraq, advancing the Kurdish Peshmerga training and ability to fight.
A C-130J Hercules transport plane is also being sent overseas, likely to assist with troops and supplies.
Recently, the Canadian Forces brought back one of their spy planes, and in 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau followed through on a campaign promise of ending the air combat mission, bringing back six CF-18 fighter jets.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in the statement that the extension will include training of “new partners within the Iraqi security forces.”
The United States originally led the effort to rebuild the Iraqi armed and police forces, which fell apart in the face of the so-called “lightning strike” when so-called Islamic State captured large swathes of territory across northern Syria and Iraq.
Now the U.S. leads an anti-Daesh coalition, known officially as Inherent Resolve, that includes Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France and other western countries.
Canada has been tied to the Kurds since the previous Conservative government under Stephen Harper intentionally linked the Armed Forces mission to the group.
Ethnic Kurds run a semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq, but its president, Masoud Barzani, has set an independence referendum for Sept. 25, 2017. Barzani originally promised a vote would come after Daesh was pushed from Mosul, which has nearly occured.
Image of Colonel Jason Major, incoming Commander of Air Task Force, Iraq address the men and women there.